The Bruises – Chapters 31 Thru 32

thebruises

Chapter 31: My Confession

Monday Evening – September – Charlotte Bullring (Dirt track)

Tony looked down at the stopwatch, surprised at he time before looking back at the car on track. He was there with his Sprint Car team as they prepared for the next race ahead. Following a not so race the previous weekend, it was time to get back down to business. His guys were off making adjustments while he was seeing what other teams that were there were running.

Glancing at the car number as it went by, he rolled his eyes. He knew exactly who it was – Kasey Kahne. Why was he surprised by the lap times? However, a glance down towards the pits, he saw Kasey standing there sharing some thoughts with Kale. Tony stood up, confused, walking over to the pits.

“Hey,” he said, interrupting the brothers. “Quick question. Who is driving your sprint right now?”

“My daughter,” Tony heard, instantly stunned as he recognized the voice. Turning around, he saw Dale standing there, watching the sprint go around the track. It was indeed Angelica driving. She had ran quarter midgets for the past two months with great success that Kasey wanted to see how she’d do in a full size sprint. “Kasey wanted to see how she’d do. Surprised?” Tony just shook his head yes as he watched Kasey with the stop watch.

“She’s not supposed to run till next year but they are talking about letting her run this event due to her wins in the quarters,” Kasey commented as Tony looked back to the track impressed.

“I don’t see how they could deny her doing it with the lap times she’s running,” he commented. “I thought for sure it was you or Darrin driving it. She’s definately a natural talented kid.”

“The apple didn’t fall far from the tree. She’s also going to run the ARCA season finale at Toledo with Venturini. They saw some of her races and gave us a call looking to get in contact with her.” Tony shook his head in surprise as his eyes turned to Dale.

“She’ll be asking for my ride before we know it,” Dale commented as Kasey tapped Kale on the shoulder.

“She’s coming in,” Kasey told them. “We’ll see if we can make it faster.” Kasey and Kale then headed down to the pits. Dale turned to follow them, when he felt a hand grab his.

“Can we talk for a minute, please?” Tony asked as he knew this would be a good time to talk to Dale about things. Dale shook his head yes as they went over to the grandstands and sat down together.

“I’ve been wondering why you haven’t been around lately,” Dale started before Tony could speak. “So you lock Jeff up for me and then disappear?” Tony looked down and hearing it that way from Dale, he definitely felt bad now.

“I didn’t want to intrude on things with you and Lindsay. With her coming back after running there, I wanted to give you guys some space.” Dale rolled his eyes as he looked back out to the dirt track.

“A whole month?” He then looked towards Tony, waiting for an explanation “That seems a little excessive. Why else did you hide away?”

“I thought you and Lindsay needed some private time with Angelica as it marked your first time not being haunted by Jeff. It was your time to be free and I wanted to let you have that. Fuck! I know I messed up.” Dale then laughed as Tony’s awkward confession.

“You think?”

“Man, I’m sorry. I should have gave you a shout and came to see you.” Dale shook his head as he kept his eyes focused on Tony’s, his own thoughts filling his mind.

“Apology accepted.” Tony then took a deep breath, ready to say what needed to be said.

“There’s also another reason I stayed away. I was scared of getting too close to you and screwing shit up for you because how much I loved you. Being with you like we were there, it made me really understand those feelings that I felt deeply for you.” Dale looked down, knowing his cheeks were turning red.

“When you were around, I felt so safe in your arms, so caring, just perfect.” Tony smiled at those words.

“Then why did I screw it up by running?”

“You answer your question damn question.” Tony then shrugged his shoulders, holding his arms up high.

“I can’t.”

“Well, you didn’t screw it all up because at least you finally told me.”

“Why is that important?”

“Because the feeling is mutual.” Tony then smiled at those words, though the smile was quickly cut off when lips met his. The feeling of Dale’s lips so close tasted just right as the two shared a passionate kiss between them. “I love you, Tony.”

“I love you too.”

“And don’t worry, you can tell Lindsay.” Tony then gave Dale a strange look at those words.

“How do you know she’ll be coo-”

“Because I’ve told her about how I feel for you and she said that’s okay as long as I love her, too.” Tony smiled as it felt like the world had been lifted off his shoulders with those simple words from Dale.

“I’m glad.”

“Good, because we have a lot of time to make up.” They then stood up, ready to head to the pits. Tony had more laps to run while Dale wanted to go check on Kasey and Angelica.

“Are you free tomorrow night?”

“Absolutely. Why?” Tony then reached over and pulled Dale close to him, sharing yet another kiss.

“Because I want to come see you.”

“It’s a deal.” The pair then separated, smiling as they each went their own ways.

 

Chapter 32: Champion!

Homestead-Miami Speedway – Sunday Night

Lindsay then pulled him close once again, giving him yet another kiss. With everything that had happened throughout the year, it ended up the best way possible. It was official. Dale Earnhardt Jr. was the Sprint Cup Series Champion. With Jeff off his back, total focus went into the final three months of the season and he was able to come out on top.

“I’m so proud of you,” she told him as she gave him another passionate kiss.

“Thank you for sticking by my side,” he replied to her as he pulled her close once again.

“Can I get a hug?” They heard and Dale smiled as he recognized that sweet voice. He then separated a bit from Lindsay allowing Angelica to join them. “Way to go Dad!”

“Thanks sweetie. I just can’t wait to watch you next year. It’s going to be wild.” They all then smiled as it was officially announced that morning that she’d do some ARCA races for Venturini after her sixth place finish in her debut at Toledo, while running sprints for KKR.

“I’m excited though!”

“Am I interrupting a family moment?” Dale heard behind him as he felt arms wrap around him. Leaning back slightly, he knew who was standing there and it brought a bigger smile to his face. With the cameras off and all the press that needed to be done for the night, they could finally have their moment together.

“Nah – I can have his ass later tonight,” Lindsay commented as they all laughed.

“Then I shall reserve Monday night.”

“At that thought, I’m going to see Ashton,” Angelica commented as she walked away, shaking her head at the three of them. Ashton was a year older than her and with her run with Venturini, she had become friends with him. Shortly after that, he asked her on a date.

As Angelica walked away, Dale spun around and locked lips with Tony.

“Should I be leaving to?” Lindsay then wondered. “I could leave you two be and have my fun later.”

“You can travel with him – I can’t,” Tony then wined as he knew Dale had a full schedule of traveling ahead of him with appearances “I want my baby!” Lindsay then laughed as Tony gave her a pouting face.

“Please Linds?” Dale then begged. “We’ve got all week in New York and wherever else they send us.”

“Fine,” she gave him as she reached up and gave him one final kiss.

“Thank you. Love you.”

“Love you, too. I’ll keep your daughter out of trouble while you two…..well….get into trouble.” They then laughed as she walked away, leaving the pair alone.

“Damn we’re lucky that she understands us so well,” Dale commented as he pulled Tony close back to him. Once their bodies were close and touching, Tony went back to kissing Dale’s lips. “I’m so glad that we crossed paths like we did. I don’t think I could ever top what we have.”

“That’s cause I’m special,” Tony commented as Dale gave him a surprised look.

“You’re special?” Dale then hopped down from the wall he was sitting down and began the long walk back to the infield with Tony. “How are you specia-”

“I’m one of a kind, and I know how to take care of you. That’s got to account to something.” Dale then laughed as he reached over, giving Tony a kiss.

“Yeah, you do know how to take care of me really well.” Tony then spun Dale and stood behind him, wrapping his arms around him. “Thank you for everythi-”

“You need to stop thanking me for the last time. I did it because I care about you. I did what any sane person would do.” Dale shook his head as he knew that Tony was thinking back to things with Jeff.

“No, I meant what we have. Thank you for this.” Tony then kissed Dale’s neck, as they stopped by the entrance to victory lane.

“Well thank you for loving me so much in return. Now, about this special time we have planned together….” Dale then looked at Tony surprised as Tony motioned towards victory lane.

“Are you serious? Do you realize that we could get caugh-”

“Lights are off, right?”

“Yeah. But what if somebody is walkin-”

“Everybody has gone home! I’ve been waiting for this moment since I won the damn race.” Dale then pulled Tony back close, backing up into victory circle with him.

“If we get caught, I’m blaming it all on you.” Tony then kissed Dale’s lips, glad that he got his way, as Dale wrapped his fingers in Tony’s hair.

“I’ll take the blame.” Tony then began playing with the zipper on Dale’s firesuit as Dale ran his fingers lightly down Tony’s cheeks. They both then pulling each other’s zippers down as their lips met once again.

“Tony…..I can’t do this…..” Tony then looked at Dale stunned by those words. What was wrong? Dale then stopped, backing up slightly.

“What’s wrong?” Tony walked a couple steps closer to Dale as Dale kept his eyes focused on the ground.

“I can’t do this. I’m sorry.”

“Is it because of where we are?” Tony knew if Dale wasn’t comfortable, they could wait till they got back to the motorcoach lot. Seeing Dale shake his head, Tony then pulled Dale close, pulling him into a cuddle. “What’s wrong bug? Why can’t we do this? Is it because of Lindsay?” Feeling Dale shake his head against him, Tony knew there was only one more reason why. “Dale, I know he hurt you. But I promise I will never do that. I’ll take care of you. I never want to see you hurt like that again. If you don’t want to do this, we don’t have to. I understand. If you’re willing to take a chance with me, I promise to take things slow and take care of you. We can go back to the motorcoach and do that if you want. I’m not going to do something you’re not comfortable with.” Dale then looked up towards Tony, tears filling his eyes.

“Let’s go back to the motorcoach; I want to be able to trust you. I’m scared, all I can think of the pain I felt, but I know that you won’t do that.” Tony smiled at Dale’s words.

“Okay, let’s go back to the motorcoach then. And Dale, I promise, I won’t hurt you ever.” The pair then made their way back to the motorcoach as Tony knew to listen to instructions.

Once inside, Dale led Tony to the back of the motorcoach, closing the bedsroom door behind them.

“I’ll be honest – I haven’t done anything sexual related at all, even with Linds, since what happened,” Dale commented as he sat on the bed. “I’ve just been scared. But I really love you and I want to so badly with you. I’ve never felt so in love with anybody like I do with you. This is nothing close to what I had with Jeff or Jimmie.” Tony then sat beside him, rubbing his back.

“That’s because I truly care about you and that’s the bottom line,” Tony comments as he reaches over and kisses Dale’s lips. Dale then slowly lays back with him, continuing to lock lips as they once again pull the zippers down. Dale then slowly pulls Tony’s firesuit off of his shoulders. “If you want me to stop at anytime, just tell me.” Dale then shook his head yes as he kissed Tony’s shoulder.

“Okay.” Tony then slipped Dale’s firesuit off, keeping his eyes locked with Dale’s.

“I promise to take care of you.”

“Okay.” Dale then kissed Tony’s chest as Tony smiled, loving the feeling of Dale’s soft lips against his chest. “I thought Kevin was joking when he said you were hairy like a sasquash. It tickles though.” Tony then laughed.

“I told you I was special. Are you okay?”

“Yeah, I’m okay.” At those words, Tony let his hands lead him to the waistband on Dale’s boxers, pulling them off slowly.

“If you’re uncomfortable, just tell me.” Dale shook his head yes as he pulled Tony’s off as well. Dale then ran his tongue down Tony’s body, circling Tony’s belly button as Tony laughed. “Fuck that tickles!” Dale then laughed as he did it once again, seeing Tony squirm slightly. Tony then retorted, running his tongue slightly up Dale’s cock.

“That feels soo good……can you just do it already?” Tony then smiled at Dale’s request, taking Dale’s cock in whole in his mouth. “Oh fuck!” Tony then began sliding his mouth slowly up and down, enjoying the taste of it. He also kept looking towards his friend, making sure that he was okay with everything. “Damn Tony!” Dale then began playing with Tony’s hair.

“I told you I’d take care of you.” Tony then began picking up the pace lightly.

The rest of the night would be between them as the night would go way better than expected with it full of many moments to remember. As they laid in bed a couple hours later, arms wrapped around each other, they both smiled. Everything that had happened the last year was behind them and now it was all about them…..oh, and Lindsay and Angelica. But for both of them, the nightmares of what had occurred previously were over. They both just hoped they’d never have to go down that road again.

THE END

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The Bruises – Chapters 26 Thru 30

thebruises

Chapter 26: Home Sweet Home

Post-Bristol – Dale Jr.’s House – Saturday Night

The discussion with the detectives went on for hours as they wanted to know everything. It seemed they never ran out of questions no matter what Dale said. However, he was now glad to be home. It meant that he could have some relaxation from everything. He had said his goodbyes to Tony, promising to get in touch that week.

He walked inside the house, closing the door behind him, glad to be done everything that needed to be done. With the announcement of the charges, his post-win media schedule had been cleared to avoid doing any publicity so close to everything. They would do a meeting mid-week to discuss what to do moving forward and then proceed.

As he slipped his shoes off, he heard footsteps coming towards him, knowing who they were once he saw the fluffy pink bunny slippers.

“You’re home!” Dale heard before he could look up to address the person before him, recognizing the voice to be Kelley’s. After speaking with her on the phone, she agreed to stay there with Angelica till he got home so that way Rick and Linda could go home. She mainly did it, though, so she could see him first thing when he made it there. Before he could move an inch from his position, the owner of the pink bunny slippers wrapped her arms around him, wanting to just be close to him. Since hearing the news, she had been worried. She knew that it couldn’t be too bad due to not noticing anything before, but had a tinge of worry on her mind. “I’ll leave you two be to talk. Don’t be a stranger tomorrow.” Kelley knew by how the pair were reacting that they needed their space.

“I’ll make sure to come and see you,” Dale told his sister before giving her a quick hug, the other set of arms still wrapped around him. He watched his sister leave, focusing his eyes down at the teenager that stood there, not willing to remove her arms from around him. Well he wanted to scream due to the pain he felt in his back and her pushing on it, he didn’t have the courage to say a word at that point. He couldn’t even begin to imagine what she was thinking. He had already heard from Steve and Rick both that she was worried about him.

“I’m just glad you’re okay Dad,” Angelica finally squeaked out, not wanting to let her dad go. He lightly rubbed her back, moving slowly into the front room as he knew that there’d be some questions she’d ask.

“I’m just so happy to see you.” They then sat on the couch, facing each other, Dale ready to face whatever was on her mind. She was a 15-year-old teenager now and probably not short of questions. “Did Steve tell you about Lind-”

“He told me that she is going away a couple days due to being scared.” Dale shook his head yes at those words, not sure if he was ready to tell her Lindsay’s secret. Was she too young for that? Seeing the heartbreak on her dad’s face, she grabbed both of his hands, wanting to find someway to give him comfort. She just wanted everything to be fine again.

“Okay. She’s worried that Jeff may get some people who don’t like her to come after her. She knew some bad people when she was younger and moved to North Carolina to get away from them. She’s scared that Jeff will tell them everything as to where she is so she wants to hide out till we get Jeff put in jail for a long time.” He looked up at Angelica’s eyes, curious of her reaction, not wanting to dive into anymore details about Lindsay’s past. That would have to wait till Lindsay was back home with them as that was her place to decide whether Angelica should know.

“Okay.” Angelica then looked down, wanting to tell her dad how she really felt, but also scared of what he would say and the affect on him. “When I heard the news, I’ll admit – I was in total shock.” She looked up, curious as to what he would say or do as a result of her words. All he did was nod his head in agreement that he was listening, not sure yet what to say. “I didn’t want to believe it that someone had hurt you because I’ve been around you and I haven’t seen anything that would make me believe it. But I knew it had to be true because you wouldn’t lie like that and it worried me. I didn’t know how you were or where you were or anything. That’s why I’m just glad that you’re home.”

“I’m glad to be home with you, too, and I’m sorry I worried you so much.” She knew her next question would test the waters of what could be said, but she had to know. She had to answer the worry questions in her mind.

“What did he do to you exactly, Dad?” Looking down as she saw no reaction on his face, she immediately regretted even asking the question.

“He slapped me, he hit with a belt across the back, he shoved me against the dresser one night – a couple different things over the course of the past two years. That’s why I didn’t want you here at first. I didn’t want you to come near what was going on. I only kept it a secret for this long because I was scared, scared that Jeff would hurt you or Lindsay. Tony finally convinced me to do the right thing. I want you to know, though, that he will never, ever, touch you because he is going away for a very long time.” He then tilted her head up towards his eyes, wanting to see those blue eyes he loved so much. “I would never let him touch you ever.” Feeling the pain on his back really begin to bug him, he stood up, knowing that he needed to go upstairs, relax and go to sleep, while getting the fabric that glazed the wounds off. “Anyways, it’s late and we’re both tired so why don’t we get some sleep? We can talk about more in the morning. I’m willing to tell you whatever you want to know. I don’t mind telling you.” He then pulled her close, giving her a kiss on the forehead. “I love you.”

“I love you, too.” She then looked up at him, smiling. “Can I ask one more question before bed?”

“Go ahead. What is it that you want to ask? I told you I’ll tell you everything. I don’t want you to worr-”

“How bad does it hurt? I could see you biting your tongue as we were sitting there. How bad does it hurt? What exactly is bugging you? You’ve done tons for me so I want to do tons for you.” He smiled at her courage, loving the fact he could see that Earnhardt fire right inside of her.

“My back is really sore, to be honest, because that’s where he did the most of the pain. There’s multiple marks across my back from nights with him.” She shook her head, now understanding everything. That’s why nobody knew as he always had a shirt on. Even if they were going swimming – he had a top on.

“How long will it take them to heal?”

“A couple weeks probably. Don’t know for sure.” She then hugged him, carefully not touching his back as she wrapped her arms around his waist.

“I love you and good night.”

“Good night Angelica. See you in the morning.” They both then headed up the stairs, separating at the top as they headed into their rooms. Once Dale was in his room with the door closed, he quickly snatched the shirt off of his back as quick as he could, slightly relaxing. “It’s over. It’s done. You’re safe and the girls are safe.” He then flopped down on the bed, belly first, knowing that he was exhausted and just wanting sleep. A slight glance at the clock showed it was 4 in the morning. “I hope Kelley and mom weren’t expecting me too early.”

 

Chapter 27: Sleepless Nights

Post-Bristol – Dale Jr.’s House – Tuesday Night

“You know you like it,” he heard growled against his ear, feeling another thrust up his rectum, pain filling his entire body.

Dale woke up, tears streaming down his face, glancing at the clock. 3:28 am. For the third straight night in a row, he couldn’t sleep as he envisioned everything that had happened in his mind. How was this possible? How could he ever move forward? He sat up, wiping the tears off, just wanting to go back to a peaceful sleep. He way overtired and needed his rest. Everybody could tell. It was why Rick had said to take some days off and try to relax.

One bedsroom over, Angelica rolled over her in bed, hearing the tears that came from the room beside her. Her dad thought that she was asleep and didn’t know of these nights. However, she had woken up each night. She wanted to go comfort him, but wondered if that would cross the line.

“You can’t keep doing this Dad,” she commented aloud as she picked her phone up off the nightstand, holding it in her hands. She knew of one person who cared for Dale more than most. She knew by how Tony had been around that he must be important.

“Fuck me,” she heard from the room over, hearing the bedsroom door crack. She knew that he was going to find some Tylenol for the pain or a glass of water to calm his thoughts. She had gotten used to these sounds. It was affecting her, not getting her own sleep. With going back to school and having homework on top of racing, she knew she couldn’t keep doing this. “Why can’t I just forget?” She shook her head, eyes focused on the number before her.

“Because you know it goes deeper than that….” She hit the number, knowing she’d have to whisper, but knowing that Dale needed him. She hated to call Tony in the middle of the night, but what else was she supposed to do?

“Hello?” She heard a panicked voice on the other end. “Angelica? Are you oka-”

“I’m fine Tony,” she started calmly. As she sat on the bed, she heard the footsteps of her dad outside of the door and into the bathroom.

“Then what’s going on?” As she heard the sound of vomit coming upstream into the toilet, she cringed slightly, knowing she definately had made the right move.

“Tony, you need to come over now please.”

“Why? What’s wron-”

“Dad hasn’t been able to sleep since coming back from Bristol.” As she sat there, she heard the cries, she heard the vomit, just wanting to run and hug him. But was that the right thing to do?

“I’m on my way.” She slowly opened her bedsroom door, catching her father’s eyes as she looked down towards the kitchen. The signature crystal blue was no longer found as it was replaced with a navy color – hurt, pain.

“Okay. See ya soon.” She then hung up on Tony, setting her phone down before slowly making her way to the bathroom. She knew it’d be a little bit before Tony showed up so she had to do something. She walked in the bathroom, sitting on the edge of the bathtub, looking at her father who sat there on the floor crying. She didn’t know what to do. She felt so afraid and so much pain in seeing him like this. “Tony is on his way over.”

“You called him?” Dale asked as he felt a hand rub his back lightly.

“You need him Dad,” she replied. “You can’t keep doing this every night.” She then scootched onto the floor beside him, continuing to rub his back as he looked towards her. It was enough for him to be going through what he was going through. But to know that his daughter knew was another fright in itself.

“You need to go back to be-”

“I’m not moving till Tony gets here.” He looked towards her, pulling her close into a hug, loving the comforting feeling of her just being there.

“Thank you.”

“I love you, Daddy. I hate to see you like this.” He looked down, letting himself vomit some more as he had yet to shake the memories. She then stood up, wetting a wash cloth, before sitting back down and wiping his face, trying to do something to help. He let her as tears filled his eyes, now knowing that she knew exactly how he felt. What was going to happen now? “The start of the trial is Thursday so you got two more days so you need to keep it together.” The start of the trial meant hearing Jeff’s plead. They expected him to plead guilty considering the evidence. If he did, it meant sentencing and gone away for all time. If he plead not guilty, then it would be a long process in telling what happened. That was something Dale didn’t want to face.

“I know and I’m trying, sweetie.” As they sat there, he felt the ability to confess that bit of emotion as there wasn’t anything to hide anymore.

“I know you are and you’re strong willed and you’re great. But you can’t do it alone and if Lindsay can’t be here for you, then I know Tony will take care of you.” He looked towards her, curious by those words. How did she know about Tony’s caring side for him?

“How do you know this, if I may ask?”

“I saw the way he was with you at Bristol so that’s enough to say a good guess. I take it by your reaction that I’m right.” He then smiled as he pulled her close, glad to be having a talk like this. It was starting to get his mind off of what he couldn’t minutes ago.

“Yeah, you’re right.” She looked up, seeing that smile, glad that she could bring some comfort to her dad. She just hoped that Tony could add more and things would end officially on Thursday.

 

Chapter 28: Tony

Post-Bristol – Dale Jr.’s House – Tuesday Night

Angelica opened the door, glancing at the big lock as it was officially 3am in the morning. Now she really felt bad for calling for Tony so late, but it had to be done.

“Hey princess,” he said before giving her a hug. He then slipped off his shoes and hung up his jacket. “Where is he?”

“In his bedsroom,” she said as they headed up the stairs. She had gotten him to calm down and led him back to his room before Tony had shown up. “Thanks for coming, by the way. I really appreci-”

“I’d do anything for him, Angelica.” He really meant those words. There was no lying now with the feelings that he had for Dale.

“I’ll leave you two be.” She then went into her bedsroom, closing the door as she knew the boys needed their privacy.

Tony walked into Dale’s bedsroom, sitting on the bed as he set his eyes on the man before him. He could see the tears streaming down Dale’s face, he could see the hurt in his eyes. It all the more ate at Tony as he wondered why he hadn’t kicked Jeff’s ass before their plan took full force.

“You didn’t have to come,” Dale let out as he looked at the person before him. How could Tony always be there like this for him? “It’s not fair for me to wake you out of bed.” Tony shook his head as he climbed up further in the bed, closing the gap that was between them.

“It is when you can’t sleep and I care about you,” Tony commented as their eyes met. When they did, Tony was reminded back to a couple weeks ago when he had busted in that night. He was reminded of the pleading eyes that just wanted to be held and comforted. Would it always be this way? “I care about you a lot and would do anything for you so don’t even start that shit on me.” Seeing no movement in Dale, he continued his crawl up the bed so the pair were sitting beside each other.

“I just want the feelings to go away. I just want to forget everything that happened. I want to move on.” Tony knew those feelings all to well as he hoped that everybody could do that with what had happened. He knew it was only becoming harder with the fact that Lindsay had ran.

“And you will as soon as Jeff is locked away for good.” Dale looked towards Tony at those words, having his own fears about Thursday.

“And what if he doesn’t get locked away? What if he ge-”

“That damn well won’t happen as we have loads of proof for what he’s done!” Seeing the tears on Dale’s face, Tony did the only thing next that he knew – he pulled Dale close, holding him. He wanted to help him forget the one thing that made him mad the worst.

“I can’t help but think about him getting off. You have to realize that can happen.” Tony then lifted his gaze, meeting Dale’s as he only had one set of words for that.

“If for some reason that asshole gets off, he will be met by me before he can do anything to you.” Dale then pulled himself in even closer to Tony, loving the safe and secure feeling that came over him.

“Why does it hurt so much? Why can’t I just forget it? Why does it continue to bug me?” Tony knew the answer to that as there was no questions about it after the confessions that had come out.

“Because you let it go for way too long. But that doesn’t matter now.” Tony lifted Dale’s shirt slightly, wincing at the marks across the young man’s back, but knew that it would help to have the fabric not touching it as he pulled the shirt off. Once the shirt was off, Dale cuddled back close to Tony, laying down in his arms as he felt the lack of sleep catching up with him.

“Thank you…..I can’t ever than-”

“Stop as you don’t need to say it. Just close your eyes and go to sleep.” Dale did as instructed, exhaustion taking over his body as he was asleep instantly. Tony laid there not moving, letting Dale lay against him, as he got his phone out of his pocket. There was one other person that needed his comfort in this house.

Tony: Angelica, are you okay?

Angelica: Yeah, I’m fine Tony.

Tony: You know if you need someone to talk to that you can always talk to me. I’m here for both of you. I can’t imagine what you’re feeling right now. You don’t have to think about that alone.

Angelica: Thanks Tony. ‘Appreciate that. Just worried about Dad. Worried about how he is feeling and all. Worried about the pain and his feelings. Scared for him, too. Also just want Lindsay to come home. I can’t believe she ran. It’s just not fair.

Tony: I hear ya but you don’t need to worry. Dale will be fine. He will heal over time. He just needs to have the comfort and love. Lindsay will come home. It will work out. Jeff won’t see the light of day. Just stay strong and believe. You’ll have the life that you dream of. I can promise you that.

Angelica: Luv ya. So sweet. Ill let you sleep – need mine.

Tony: Okay. Nite. See ya in the morning.

Angelica: Night Tony.

 

Chapter 29: Trial

Post-Bristol – Court House – Thursday Afternoon

Dale sat there in between Tony and Rick, eyes focused forward. Today was the big day. Today they would learn the fate that they all questioned. Dale just wanted things over and done with after everything that had happened. He wanted to never go through the events again. There was no way this couldn’t be the end.

As his thoughts ran through his mind, he kept Tony’s hand close to his, clutching it in his tightly. Since Tony came over late Tuesday night, he hadn’t left. He called Stewart-Haas and told them that he had some things to take care of, agreeing to be there for his friend. While Dale thought he was done with crazy relationships following things with Jimmie, he was slowly finding himself falling for Tony. He had wanted to say something – but was scared. He still loved Lindsay and he didn’t want to change that. However, the comfort he felt with Tony – it was different. It was special and it had helped a ton.

“Are you sure you’re okay?” Rick whispered as he turned towards Angelica. Angelica had begged them to come. She wanted to know herself that things were over, too. She knew she couldn’t go to school and sit through the day with worry. She also knew that staying home wouldn’t work either. After much protesting, they all had agreed to let her go so there she sat beside Rick. She knew it was a tough time for Dale and that Tony could offer the comfort he so deserved. In that respect, she had turned to the one person that she had depended so much on the last couple years of her life to help her out.

“I’m fine Rick,” she replied as she glanced towards the back of the room after hearing the door open. They had kept it as a closed court session, only certain people allowed to be there. Seeing the person, even if hid underneath her hood, she smiled. She recognized that face anywhere and was glad that she was there. “Look behind you but don’t say a word, Rick.” Rick took a quick glance towards the direction as he watched the women sit down in a seat at the back of the room.

“Court is now in session!” They all heard announced, turning their gaze up towards to the front. “Mr. Jeff Gordon, do you understand the charges that you are facing?”

“My client would like to follow a request with regards to one of them,” Gordon’s lawyer spoke up, causing concern to rise in Dale’s throat. What were they going to try to pull? “The charges against my client with regards to Mr. Earnhardt – there are no problems.”

“Then what is the problem?” The judge then asked, which was a question that many of them wanted to spit out. “The charges put forth with regards to Lindsay MacKenzie?” The lawyer then shook his head yes as he opened up a folder.

“Mrs. Lindsay MacKenzie has yet to file a statement with regards to the charges. She also has not officially stated that she is filing charges against my client.” Seeing the eyes of the Judge switch to the other side of the room, there was a small bit of tension.

“Is this true? Has Ms. MacKenzie done the necessary work required?” Angelica then took a glance towards the back of the room, feeling the need for an unveil soon.

“No she hasn’t,” Blake Johnson, the lawyer representing Dale and Lindsay, finally spoke. “She has officially taken to hiding as a result of some threats that Mr. Gordon has levied against her. She has stated her reasoning due to the safety of her family. I have an official telephone record of our conversation, which states her warrant to press charges. I can pla-”

“That’s not enou-” The judge started as Angelica smiled at the sight of the hood being put down.

“I am here and present and pressing those charges,” Lindsay then spoke, hood removed. Instantly, everybody turned to the back of the room, mixed of emotions. Dale’s was a full smile as he was glad that she had come back home. “I hope you rot in hell for what you did, Jeff.”

“Your honor!” Gordon’s lawyer Miley Williams protested against the outburst.

“Charges stay in place per Ms. MacKenzie’s words, but Ms. McKenzie must keep her mouth shut now,” the judge then spoke as Lindsay sat back down, eyes fixed on Dale. They locked eyes for a moment and she knew there was no way of running away now.

“There are still a problem – Lindsay McKenzie is not her real name!” The judge then turned back towards Blake as Dale looked down. Were they ready for the secret to be revealed there?

“Is this true Mr. Johnson?” The judge asked as Blake cleared his throat.

“She had her name legally changed over eight years ago and can show proof of that,” Mr. Johnson clarified as the judge motioned for the proof to be shown. Lindsay then stood up, walking to the front of the room, handing Blake her wallet. “Here it is.” Blake handed it to the bailiff who took it up to the judge, who looked it over.

“This checks out. Thank you Ms. McKenzie. Anymore protests before your client puts in his plead?”

“No sir,” Miley Williams said as Lindsay sat beside Dale on the bench.

“I missed you,” she whispered giving him a quick kiss before turning her eyes back towards to the front.

“So we’re going to go through these one by one…..” The judge started as he looked down at his sheet. “I’d rather do them at once but cannot do that legally. I am going to mention each type of charge and end your plead. Some of these have multiple accounts, by the way. On the charge of physical and mental abuse towards Dale Earnhardt Jr, how do you plead?”

“Guilty,” Jeff stated as he looked down. He knew by the length of proof that Tony had there was no way to get out of it.

“On the charge of assault towards Dale Earnhardt Jr., how do you plead?” Dale kept his eyes focused on the ground, body still sore from what had taken place, pain filling him. He knew part of it was mentally in thinking back to some of the nights.

“Assault? No no, that’s not guilty. I may have slapped in and pushed him, but that’s not assu-”

“That defines assault. Assault is when you cause bodily harm to another individual, whether with or without a weapon. Do you change your plead, Mr. Gordon?”

“Yes, I change my plead then. Sorry. Guilty.” Tony held Dale’s hand tighter, knowing what was left to come in the list of charges that still laid ahead of them.

“On the charge of threatening bodily harm towards Dale Earnhardt Jr., how do you plead?”

“Guilty.”

“On the charge of rape towards Dale Earnhardt Jr., how do you plead?” Hearing the words, both Lindsay and Tony took each of Dale’s hands and held them. They could see the hurt in his eyes at the words being mentioned and the thought of tears that threatened to fall.

“Not guilty.” Tony then looked up stunned at Jeff’s words. Didn’t Jeff know he was guilty by the video content that was already recorded?

“On the charge of rape towards Lindsay McKenzie, how do you plead?”

“Guilty.” Lindsay locked eyes with Tony at the conflicting pleads that they had heard. Why was he saying he was guilty to one but not the other?

“On the charge of threatening Lindsay McKenzie, how do you plead?”

“Not guilty.” Lindsay looked towards Jeff, surprised by those words. Was it a ploy for her to tell the story?

“On the charge of threatening Angelica Jami-”

“She just completed the process of getting her name legally changed to Angelica Earnhardt,” Blake Johnson interrupted as Angelica smiled at the thought. It was a long process that involved DNA tests to confirm everything, but she was glad it was done. It felt right to have the Earnhardt last name.

“Okay then,” the judge commented before making a change to his notes. “On the charge of threatening Angelica Earnhardt, how do you plead?”

“Guilty.” Jeff then looked towards the young 15 year old with a smile on her face as she turned away. She didn’t want to look towards him after what he had done to Dale and Lindsay.

“To recap, you have plead guilty to abuse, assault and threatening Dale Earnhardt Jr., raping Lindsay McKenzie and threatening Angelica Earnhardt. Adding the sentences together for the multiple accounts, you are to sentenced to life in jail without chance of parole. With that said, Mr. Johnson, do you want to prosecute the defendant on the other charges?” Blake looked towards Dale and Lindsay, looking for answer. Both shook their head no, knowing the emotions of going through talking about some of the nights would be too much on them both.

“No your honor,” Blake Johnson replied. “Although I do have a request about Mr. Gordon’s time in jail.”

“And what is that?” The judge asked as Lindsay held her breath. This was the moment of truth on whether she could stay there or have to run for the safety of those she loved.

“Due to the status of the threats that Mr. Gordon has levied against my clients, I request no touch with the outside world. I don’t think it’d be right to chance those secrets getting out. The secrets that he holds against Dale Earnhardt Jr., Lindsay McKenzie and Angelica Earnhardt could put them in danger if released.”

“Motion accepted. Any mail that Mr. Gordon wants to send out will be screened before leaving. Is that all?”

“Yes.”

“Court ajourned!” Dale then let out a long sigh of relief as he looked towards Lindsay, kissing her, as they both watched Jeff go away with the officer.

“It’s over finally,” Tony whispered as he gave Dale a quick hug before standing up. He knew that the pair would want some time to spend together alone after Lindsay’s escape.

“Thank you for everything,” Dale said as he stood up with Tony, pulling him into a hug. Even though he didn’t want to admit his feelings out loud, he wanted Tony to know how much he thanked him for everything. If it wasn’t for Tony stepping in, this could be still going on.

“You don’t have to thank me, Dale. I did it because I care about you. You’re my best friend and I hated to see you going through that.”

“Thank you for taking care of him the last couple of months,” Lindsay then interrupted them, wrapping her arms tightly around Tony. There were no words to describe how thankful she was for what Tony had done. “It means the world to me, to us.”

“Like I said – you don’t need to thank me,” Tony replied as he smiled. They all then walked out of the court house, finally relieved. As Tony stood back and watched Dale, Lindsay and Angelica talk, he couldn’t help but smile. They were a happy family again and there was no one around to ruin it. That’s all that mattered at that point.

 

Chapter 30: My Thoughts For Him

Monday Afternoon – 1 month down the road after the trial (end of September) – Tony Stewart’s office

To everybody’s surprise, life pretty much returned to normal for everyone.

Dale was dealing with his emotions slowly, getting through them one step at a time. He hadn’t had to worry about Jeff so he was feeling much better. Lindsay and Dale’s relationship was back to where it was before and she was convinced once again that her secret was safe.

For Angelica, life had returned to as normal as a 15-year-old girl racing could have her life. She was racing quarter midgets for Kasey Kahne’s team and doing well, finishing top five each week with some wins. She was also doing well in school and was lined up for her first ARCA start at Toledo Speedway in a month.

So with everything returned to somewhat normal, why was Tony sitting in his office stuck in deep thought about everything? It was also no surprise that the two people who knew the most about everything – Danica and Ricky – were sitting across from him. Yes, somehow Ricky managed to sneak past security at SHR again. Tony was beginning to think he should hire him and be done with it.

“So what is on your mind since you called us here?” Ricky asked, finally breaking the silence. Tony had texted the pair an hour ago asking for them to come over to talk. They showed up 40 minutes later and had been sitting there in silence the past 20 minutes, only saying hi to each other and asking how they all were. “Jeff escape jail? Was one of those secrets revealed? You need to tel-”

“It’s not what you’re thinking Ricky,” Tony cut him off, not even wanting to think about that happening. That’d just be a nightmare.

“Then what is it?” Danica asked as she stood up, walking around the big desk to be right beside Tony. She had used this tactic many times before and each time it had worked to her advantage as he would spill everything. “You’re with friends. We won’t tell anybody.” Tony took a deep breath, knowing it wouldn’t be easy to tell them.

“With the time that I spent with Dale, I developed a lot of feelings for him. Guys, I don’t how to say this but I love him. I love him a lot and I miss cuddling with him. I miss those sweet nights together.” Ricky looked towards the man before him, confused. What had broken off what they had going?

“Then why did you run away when the trial was over?” Ricky asked, catching Tony’s eyes. “Why did you leave him there and not say a word about this?” Tony looked down, remembering that day. That day wasn’t about him. It was about Dale and ending his nightmare. It was about Dale returning back into the arms of the person he loved the most.

“I wanted to just let him and Lindsay be because I felt that was right,” Tony started. “I never though I had fallen this hard for the guy.”

“Then why don’t you tell him?” Danica then asked as she walked back over to Ricky. “I finally broke down and admitted that I like this guy.” Tony knew it wasn’t that easy as there were other things to consider.

“What about Lindsay? What about that relationship that they have?” Danica shook her head as Tony’s questioning, remembering what Tony had told them the one day.

“What about her being okay with you and Dale cuddling that night?” Ricky smiled as he remembered how Tony’s face lit up when he talked about spending that time with Dale.

“She said it was fine and left you two be,” Ricky then added. “You had a different special look to you with your smile when you spoke about that. You need him, Tony.” Tony looked down, knowing that the pair was right.

“Yeah, I really do need him more than I think I realize,” Tony let slip out of his mouth as he felt a pair of hands on his shoulders. He glanced up, to see that both Ricky and Danica were standing behind him now.

“Then go tell him that.”

“The worst he can say is no and you don’t have to sit here questioning it everyday,” Danica added as she remembered the times she sat in her office thinking about Ricky before she started dating him. “Take a chance. Let yourself fight for what you want. We know that you are always willing to pick a fight so go after it. I bet you’ll find something you weren’t ever expecting.” She then smiled as she got Ricky to follow her out of the office, closing the door behind her.

Turning to Ricky, she pulled out her phone, showing him a text. Dale had been texting her the last couple of weeks wondering what Tony was up to and how he was doing.

It was true – Dale also missed Tony and wondered if he’d ever get those late night cuddles that meant so much to him back.

“All he has to do is listen to us,” Danica commented as she put her phone back in her pocket.

“He will – his heart won’t let him not,” Ricky replied as he remembered when Danica confessed her love for him. He wanted to deny it – not wanting to get involved so soon after her marriage. However, he couldn’t deny his heart in having what it so desired.

The Bruises – Chapters 21 Thru 25

thebruises

Chapter 21: The Race

Bristol – Saturday Night

Dale and Steve stood by the car, counting down the minutes till the start of the race. Steve was right. They had a bullet. He had managed to qualify on pole. The week had gone according to plan, too, as Jeff held word to his promise. It put a sense of relief in Dale’s mind as it was one week that he didn’t have to deal with the pain. It also had allowed himself some good time to continue to feel better, now ready for the 500 laps that would take place that night.

“We’re going to have a good night,” Steve predicted. “We just got to keep you out of trouble and we got a win on our hands. I just hope that what you’re thinking works. How are you planning on pulling off a win and what you’re thinking?” Dale then smiled as he looked towards his crew chief.

“He’ll be up front late in the race if he can stay out of trouble,” Dale replied. “You’ll see it go down in the final 20 laps if he’s up there where I think he’ll be in the top five. I can’t let this go down without getting a piece of revenge for Daytona for not only myself, but for you and the guys.” Steve then smiled as he wrapped an arm around his driver, looking down the starting grid to see Jeff there with his wife and kids.

“I appreciate that, but it’s not necessary. I just want to see things over with for you, Lindsay and Angelica.” Dale smiled as he looked towards Lindsay and Angelica, who were engulfed in their own conversation with one of the crew guys.

“Just make sure after the race to keep your eyes on them. Tony has my back with his part so you have their back.” Steve shook his head in agreement, knowing how much they both meant to Dale and knowing that Tony would definately have Dale’s back no matter what. “They mean everything to me.”

40 laps to go….

Last round of pit stops didn’t go as planned as Dale came first and went out eighth. According to Steve per the radio, it was due to a hang up on the left rear. Though with fou laps left, there was time to work their magic.

“We’ve ran up front all night so you can get back up there,” Steve encouraged his driver under caution. “24 is leading by the way.” With the plan they had in hand, it seemed it was coming together perfectly. Jeff was up front, as predicted, and it seemed that if it was going to happen, it’d go down better than expected. A look at the scoreboard was also show that Jeff would have his hands full on the restart virtue of Kyle and Tony.

“Top seems to had been better all night, strangly, so this could be to our advantage,” T.J. added. While Bristol was a short banked track, it had been true that most people were making passes to the outside. The outside groove was the quicker way around and if you wanted to pass, the bottom was tough to do it. T.J. sensed that they’d be able to make some quick passes early on the restart and then show their strength continuing to make their way through the field. “I’ll try to get you clear as soon as I can.”

“I’ll leave these final laps to you both but 40 laps, strong car, you can do it buddy!”

As they got near the end of the race, it had played true. Dale had made his way through the field, making some passes high on the restart, some passes low as the laps ticked away. It was a show to watch as everybody was wondering if they could pull off a win after last week in Michigan.

“5 laps.” Steve said across the radio as there were five laps to go and now Dale ran second to Jeff, just a couple car lengths behind. In an amazing feat, their plan was coming together way better than they expected.

“You’re catching him,” T.J. came across the radio, noticing how much quicker Dale seemed to be in the middle of the corners. “Faster in the middle of the corners. No lap traffic around you.”

 

Chapter 22: Bristol Part 2

Bristol – Saturday Night

It marked three laps left and Dale was there, right on Jeff’s bumper coming off of turn two to go down the backstretch. Down into turn four, Dale kept himself right there, giving Jeff a slight tap, knowing that he had to get Jeff thinking about what he would do.

“Two to go,” T.J. said as he crossed the front stretch finish line. “Save move for last lap.” By watching his driver, T.J. could tell there was possibility of a bump and run happening. Steve and Dale hadn’t told T.J. of the plan nor any details, however everybody sensed it by how the pair were racing each other.

“You can do it,” Steve encouraged his driver as he watched them head down the backstretch, biting his lip. The plan haunted him now as he watched the pair. He knew what was coming. What this really the right thing to do considering everything? “Final lap.” He stood up, watching the pair go into turns one and two, just waiting for it to happen. It was only a matter of time now.

Going into turn three, Dale knew that it was time and he gave Jeff the bump, sending him down the banking and for the spin as Dale went on to take the victory. A smile crossed his face in knowing what had happened, though there was a sense of fear building. Maybe the plan wasn’t the best idea.

“I didn’t mean to turn him – just bump him,” Dale came across the radio immediately as he crossed the finish line and Steve stood on the pit box, smiling, high-fiving the guys. He knew that the comment was a total lie, enough to cover for the guys on the 24 team, but it was what it was. “Way to go guys on an awesome car! Steve, this thing was a rocket! Awesome job!”

“Nice job Dale,” they all heard a new voice chime in, knowing that it was the boss’. It was questionable as to whether there’d be a discussion following the race that Rick was thinking of. He had a discussion after Daytona, but it was determined probably in his mind to do it again. Though with what was about to go down, Dale knew that discussion would be a lot bigger.

“Way to go buddy!” Steve came across the radio as he climbed down from the pit box. “You did a heck of a job driving through the field there after that pit stop. Great team effort tonight!”

Victory Lane

Dale smiled as he was surrounded by the crew, everybody drowning each other in any liquid they could find. The smiles on their face proved that this was needed. It felt good to get back to victory lane. It felt good to get their piece of revenge for what had happened in Daytona. Even though the 24 was their teammate, there was some anger still felt by what had happened in the final laps. He looked over to see Lindsay and Angelica smiling, enjoying the moment, and it just seemed perfect. Thinking things over, he knew it was a matter of time before they were completely perfect.

“You son of a bitch!” He heard being yelled and turned to see Jeff standing there, instantly wiping the smile off of his face. He knew that Jeff would probably come pay him a victory lane visit.

“That is what you call payback for what you did in Daytona,” Dale said simply as he turned to go back to the crew, when he felt a hand grab his arm. Tensing up slightly, he knew instantly by the feel of the hand and grip level who it belonged to. “I had to do it for my guys. They didn’t deserve what you did to us in Daytona.” He felt the hand tighten its grip, biting his lip as they both backed away from the crew guys.

“I don’t care what you’re reasoning is; you had no fucking business to do that. For that, I will make sure you pay. For that, I should just send out at least one of the secrets to show you who runs this show. Now what do you think about that?” Dale looked down, not expecting that to come out. He had planned it to meet back at the motorcoach and then bring in the arrest with a total cover-up.

“No – don’t do that, yet.” He saw the confusion in Jeff’s eyes by his words.

“What do you mean ‘yet’? What are you trying to say Earnhardt?” Dale looked down, before turning his gaze back up to Jeff as he could feel a gaze on his back. He knew that belonged to Steve as Steve was the only one who knew the truth behind everything that was in victory lane at that moment. Where was Tony? “What are you thin-”

“Don’t do anything yet. Let me deal with the media in the media center and then I will meet you back at my motorcoach – alone.” Dale knew in a matter of the time he had, he would work it so Tony would be finding the person they needed and Steve would have watch on Angelica and Lindsay. It was a twist to the original plan, but it had to be done.

As he watched Jeff walk away, Dale then turned as he walked over to where Steve stood, now joined by Tony who had made his way over.

“What was that about?” Steve asked as he watched his driver walk over. “Dal-”

“We do media center and then after that, you keep Lindsay and Angelica at bay at the trailer as they know what is going down,” Dale started, knowing they had only a matter of time to plan it out. “He’s going back to my motorcoach – he knows my password to get in by the electronic lock. Tony, you’re in charge of what you were before – get the officer and meet us there. I’ll keep him busy so he doesn’t do anything that we’ll regret. He was going to leak all the secrets out as per the incident, but agreed not to by my words. This is working out according to plan boys.” They both then smiled as Dale then picked the champagne bottle up, going over and dumping it on Lindsay’s head.

Lindsay let out a smile as she felt it run down her body, though felt a bit of concern. She had heard the discussion and the possibility of the secrets being told. What if they were? What if her cover was blown? Was she ready to put Dale and his daughter in harms way?

 

Chapter 23: We Meet Again

Bristol – Saturday Night

Dale walked back to the motorcoach, typing the password into the keypad, surprised the door wasn’t unlocked. He knew what he faced once he was inside, but he wanted to have a talk with Jeff before everything went down. This is why he had planned it out like he had.

Hearing the click of the door, he opened it, walking inside and closing it behind him. As he made his way inside, he saw the one person that haunted his nightmares sitting there on the couch, waiting. By the looks of it, waiting impatiently. Dale couldn’t help it if the media had kept him longer than expected with a crazy list of questions.

“You could’ve helped yourself to a drink while you waited,” Dale commented as he walked up to the individual, eyes focused down him. There was no question that the hatred between them was spewing worse than ever.

“I wasn’t thirsty,” Jeff replied back to Dale as he stood up so their eyes met on even level. It was no question that Jeff’s dark blue eyes equaled anger from what had happened. It was no question that on any other given night this would have ended with torture beyond torture and no ending to it. “I was only hungry for kicking someone’s ass.” Dale crossed his arms, keeping his eyes locked with Jeff’s.

“I thought you would’ve been sick of that by now.” Jeff shook his head, not believing the words that spewed from the person in front of him. Why weren’t they in the bedsroom already?

“I never get sick of seeing the pain written across your face and you know that.” Dale felt Jeff’s fingers wrap around his wrist, having felt this many times, having become immune to it. “It’s a satisfaction that nobody else can give me.” Dale shook his head as he looked down, ready to spew his own thoughts.

“Not even Harvick, right? The funny thing Jeff is that I heard you were cheating behind my back with Kevin for at least a month. In speaking with Kevin about that relationship, Kevin said that you guys did it at least 10 times while I was with you.” Dale then flung his wrist away from Jeff, knowing that he had said what needed to be said. Dale had found the news about Kevin and Jeff being together through Tony when Tony got drunk one night. When Tony was drunk, he turned into super confessional. He spilled the details and Dale then went and confirmed them with Kevin. Kevin said he had broken the relationship off as a result of not wanting to interfere with the family he was starting with Delana. “So you fuck Harvick 10 times behind my back and yet you’re mad at me for fucking Johnson three times? That doesn’t even seem fair at all! Maybe this is over the fact that you have been left out of having a partner and feel the need to take that anger out on me for whatever god damn reason. I mean, after all, I did sleep with the guy who you were brought into the sport because you wanted a playmate.” Seeing the shocked expression on Jeff’s face, Dale shook his head, almost laughing. “It’s kind of funny, isn’t it? You brought Jimmie into Hendrick just as we were starting to get close.”

“You fucking bitch!” Jeff then went to grab Dale, though Dale pushed Jeff back, causing Jeff to fall back on the couch. The secrets were finally revealed on the table. Dale and Jeff got together late 2001 season, the same time that Jimmie was signing his contract. The pair had a good relationship till 2004 when both cheated on each other – Jeff slept with Kevin while Dale slept with Jimmie. Dale and Jimmie broke ties due to Chandra and the kids while Kevin broke tires due to Delana and the family they had coming. Furious with the fact that he had nobody to go with, Dale didn’t want him back and no new fling, he lashed out starting in 2011. Dale seemed to be the easy target due to no kids to mess around in the middle with and due to having the secret with Lindsay that Jeff had run across due to some inside sources.

“You’re just as much as a bitch as I am Jeff for what you did, too.”

“Wait till I get my hands on you!” Jeff then stood up grabbing Dale by the wrist and pulling him close. “Do you not realize what I could do to you? Do you not realize that I could throw your ass into jeopardy so quickly with a simple text message of secrets?” Dale then flung Jeff’s hands off the couch, causing it to break on the floor with a smile.

“Now how do you plan to do that again? I’m sick and fucking tired of what you’ve done to me and I’m sick and tired of dealing with it. I can’t deal with the pain anymore.” Jeff then moved his other hand to Dale’s suit, grabbing a handful of it to keep the pair of them locked right close to each other.

“So what are you going to do then?” Dale then took a deep breath, knowing that Tony would be there soon.

“I’m going to do what I should’ve done a long time ago.” Dale then gave Jeff a punch right to the jaw, causing Jeff to let him go.

“What? Kill me?” Dale then laughed as he heard the door open, seeing Tony Stewart walk in with an officer.

“If it was up to me and legal, I would have you dead in minutes,” Tony commented aloud as the officer walked over to where Jeff sat on the couch, putting in hand cuffs.

“Mr. Stewart told me about what you have done and showed me a piece of video proof,” the officer started. “Mr. Jeff Gordon, you’re under arrest on charges of assault abuse and rape in your behavior towards Dale Earnhardt Jr. You have the right to remain silent.”

“Killing you would be an easy form of torture, Jeff,” Dale comment aloud as he sat back on the couch, letting out a long sigh. It felt good to see things officially end. As he sat there and watched the officer leave the motorcoach with Jeff, he felt arms wrap him, knowing exactly who’s they were.

“It’s over, finally,” Tony simply said as he pulled Dale close, watching the officer return back inside.

“Thank you for your help, Tony.” He then looked towards the officer, who stood there in front of them.

“Mr. Stewart has supplied enough proof with what he has shown and claimed to have on him,” the officer started. “However, we do require you to come down to the station and make a statement.”

“Okay,” Dale replied quietly, knowing that meant telling somebody outside of their circle every single detail there was to know.

“Do you want me to come?” Tony asked, knowing that his friend needed his support. “I want to hel-”

“Yeah, please.” Dale then looked up towards the officer, having a request first. “I’ll be there in about 20 minutes. I need to go see some people.” Dale knew that he had to go talk to Rick about what had happened and he had to go see both of his girls to make sure they were okay.

“Dale, Rick knows virtue of Stevie and Stevie has the girls. Let’s go get this over with.” Tony knew exactly what Dale was thinking, but also knew what needed to be done. “Plea-”

“No, I need to see my girls and Rick first…..oh, and Jimmie.” Dale knew that Jimmie had to find out at least some of the details from him first with what was about to come out. There was also a video still hidden away, too.

“That is fine sir as I understand you’re going through a lot of pain right now,” the officer interrupted the pair. “Take your time, but please do stop by tonight. Oh, and wear a light t-shirt because we will need do some photos to go with the investigation.”

“Okay and thank you for understanding,” Dale replied as he watched the officer leave the motorcoach. He then stood up, making his way to the back of the motorcoach, grabbing a pair of jeans and t-shirt to change into. Who knew! Tonight he was supposed to be celebrating one of the biggest wins of his career at Bristol, and yet now he’d be spending the night explaining his twisted life to a police officer. As he changed, he looked down at his phone, checking the text messages. There were some messages of congratulations, though there was one that stood out.

Dad, where are you? I can’t find Lindsay!

Dale froze at those words, knowing who exactly that message was from as worry filled his mind.

“Steve was supposed to be protecting you guys!” He yelled as he furiously hit reply quickly.

Where are you now, Angelica?

I’m at the trailer with Stevie. He told me you were busy and to wait here. Dale let out a slight sigh as he read the message, though there was still worry.

“Fuck!” He screamed as he went to type back to his daughter.

Is Lindsay there?

No. She ran after the victory lane party – Jason saw her. I was talking with TJ and didn’t know. Dale sat on the bed confused by those words from his daughter. Why would Lindsay run from victory lane? Where would she go? Where was she?

“Tony?” He called out as he walked back into the main part of the motorcoach, feeling an unease come over him as he kept reading the message over and over. He then heard his phone beep, causing him to look down at his phone.

We heard Jeff is arrested. Come to the trailer. I know Angelica is texting you about Linds. She wasn’t kidnapped. She left a note with Jason for you. Hurry man! Dale’s heart broke as he read those words from his crew chief, scared of what the contents of her note contained.

“We need to go to the trailer right now!” He said to Tony before running out of the motorcoach, quickly followed by Tony.

 

Chapter 24: Lindsay’s Note

Bristol – Saturday Night

Dale and Tony made their way to the hauler, seeing Steve sitting on the front steps with a piece of paper folded in one of his hands.

“Rick and Linda are inside with Angelica,” Steve started as he looked up at the pair before him. Dale knew with the arrest happening and probably all over the news, it would only be a matter of time before Angelica knew what was going on.

“What does she know?” Dale asked as he crossed his arms, concerned about his daugther’s thoughts. He knew he could worry about his own later.

“She heard the breaking news so by that she knew that Jeff had hurt you.” Steve then looked up at the pair, keeping himself calm when he really wanted to scream about what was going on. “They left the rape fact out of the public news stream so nobody knows about that except myself, Tony and Rick. Rick has basically told Angelica that Jeff has been hurting you for awhile – no details on the secrets or anything beyond that. She’s just worried about you and Lindsay.” Tony then crossed his arms as he focused his eyes on Steve. Upon hearing the news about Lindsay, he wanted to strangle Steve. Steve was given the order of business to watch over the pair for them.

“Speaking of Lindsay, what’s going on?” Tony asked. “How did she get away from us? You were suppo-”

“She did it while I was in the media center with Dale and Rick,” Steve cut him off, knowing that Tony was going to go off on some unneeded lecture.

“I don’t blame you or Jason as you weren’t there and Jason didn’t know,” Dale interrupted the pair of them in their stare down as he was stuck in thought. He was worried about where Lindsay could be and what the note contained. He was also worried about Angelica and her feelings about him. “Can I have the note please?” Steve shook his head yes as he handed Dale the piece of paper.

“I also spoke to Jimmie, as you requested, and told him about the Angelica threat, the video and what had been going on. He said he’d come by and see ya sometime this week to see how you were.” Tony’s heart cringed at those words as he knew the connection that Jimmie and Dale held from their previous relationship. He wondered if what had happened would re-open Jimmie to that relationship and bring him back in Dale’s life. If that was the case, where would his feelings for Dale end up? “I haven’t touched the note as I didn’t want to interrupt your privacy. I just told Jason that I would pass it along.” Steve then sat there in silence as he watched Dale unfold it, opening it to read the writing inside.

Dale,

I’m sorry. I know of your plan, but I am scared. What if it doesn’t work? What if it works, yet Jeff tells the world my secret? I don’t want to put you and Angelica in harms way because of what I did so I have to do this.

I hate to break your heart. I hate to run away like this without seeing you first – but I have no choice. I couldn’t live with myself if you or Angelica got hurt because of me.

Thank you for the love that you have shared with me and the memories. You have certainly helped me become a better person with everything that had happened in my previous life. You taught me friendship and love, two things that I never knew could be as special as what we have together. Thank you for not judging me by what I had done, hearing my story out, understanding why I did what I did and giving me a chance. Not everybody would do that for me.

I am going to my poppa and momma to explain things and protect myself. I hope you understand, but know that I will always love you forever.

– Lindsay, xoxoxo

Dale folded the note back up as tears streamed down his face, not believing what was happening. With Jeff arrested and hopefully going away for a long time, he thought that his life would get back to normal once again. He thought that he could have the life that he had always dreamed of with Lindsay. However, due to her own fear, due to the possibilities, she was gone.

“Dale?” Steve asked as he saw his best friend standing there crying before them. It was no secret what the note contained by the emotions that were now written on Dale’s face.

“She ran away,” Dale started as he put the note in his pocket. “She ran away because she was afraid.” He then pulled his phone out, turning away from the group, quickly dialing her cell number. He couldn’t lose her like this after everything.

“Please answer him Lindsay,” Tony begged as he wrapped his arms around Dale, holding him as they both waited for an answer.

“Hello?” They both heard on the phone and Dale pulled himself away from Tony, wanting to be alone with his phone call.

“Lindsay?” He said as he walked away from Tony and Steve, heading between a couple of the haulers towards pit road. Tony went to follow, yet Steve grabbed the driver’s arm to stop him.

“Let me go Ste-” Tony started yet Steve just held on tighter.

“Leave him be,” Steve started. “They need to have this talk by themselves. I have a spot you can watch from.” Steve then led Tony over to the stairs that led to the top of the hauler. “Go up there and keep an eye on him while I go tell Rick is going on.”

“Fine.” Tony hated to go up on top of the hauler and peer over Dale, however he knew that Steve was right. This was something that Dale had to do by himself if he wanted to. Depending on what happened, though, Tony knew that he’d be there for his best friend.

Chapter 25: The Phone Call
Bristol – Saturday Night

“Lindsay, can we talk?” Dale asked as he sat down on the pit road wall, knowing that he had to do whatever he could to get her to come back. He had to convince her that things would be okay. “The plan worked. Jeff is arrested and going away.” He then looked down, waiting for a response from her, just wanting to at least have a decent conversation with her about what had happened.

“I’m glad that he’s arrested Dale,” Lindsay started carefully. “But I can’t come back. There’s still a chance that he could release the secret. I can’t put you and Angelica in jeopardy because of my past so I’m sorry but I have to do this. I love you and I don’t know what I’d do if you got caught in the middle of my bullshit. It’d break me apart.” Dale kept his eyes on the pavement, fighting back the tears that were trying to force their way out. How could this be happening? “I know it hurts for me to leave, but I have to do this Dale. Let’s just cut our losses so that way it doesn’t make it worse. I’m sorr-”

“Lindsay, you have to fucking listen to me – please. Jeff is arrested and there’s rules set in about what he can let out before trial. Once trial takes place, we’re going to stress the factors and make sure that he can’t get any messages out.”

“I want to believe that will work, but how do we know that for sure?” Dale shook his head, not knowing what to tell her at this point. How could he change her mind? “We don’t and I can’t take that chance. You have a loving family with your mom, Kelley, Angelica, Tony and Rick – I don’t want to ruin that. I can’t do that to you after what you’ve done for me. I know it’s hard to understand, but I’m sorry.” Dale wiped the tears away, looking up at the start-finish line before him. Just hours earlier he had crossed as the winner and fulfilled the bump and the run. It was the start of fixing everything and making things better. How could the pain continue?

“Lindsay, I don’t give a shit about the worry that you have. I will take that and deal with it over you running away from me. I want to help protect you because I know why you did it and I know that it’s not your fault. You need to stop letting this tear you away from the people that you love the most. I knew when you dropped those words on me what I was in for and I’m not backing out now. Please come home to me.” As she sat on the plane, looking out the window, her heart was broken. This was originally the right thing to do, but now she felt bad for the pain that she had caused Dale in the process. It had made her realize just how much they had grown to love each other and why they badly needed each other. Maybe he was right. Maybe the secret wouldn’t be revealed and all of his plans would work out. But how could anybody know that for sure? Taking a deep breath, she knew she couldn’t chase him away forever.

“Listen, it hurts so much for me to do this to you so let’s make a deal, alright? If everything works out and you can get all these locks put in place, I will come home. The minute they are in place, I will come home. Till then with a chance of a screw up, I am going to have to keep my distance from you in case.” Dale smiled slightly at her words, knowing it was better than nothing. At least there was a chance to fix this. And he knew that it would work because he knew that he would be able to convince the judge to do as he requested after what Jeff had done. “You’re free to text me while we wait things out so that way we can keep in contact. I love you and I don’t know what I’d do without you. That’s why I convinced myself to do this.”

“I love you, too, and don’t worry – it will work out.” She smiled, hoping he was right.

“I hope you’re right babes. Oh, by the way, just so you know – I’m going home to see my mama. I haven’t seen her since I was let out of jail so I can’t wait to tell her about all of the details in my life, especially about you. She’s moved to New York actually and says that her and papa got out of the game. So don’t worry – I’ll be safe with them.” He smiled at her words, glad they could come to some compromise.

“Have fun with your parents then and I hope they approve of me. I’d be scared if they didn’t.” She laughed, though wondered in her mind what they would think of her dating a southern racecar driver.

“You’re a sweet loving, caring, southern darlin’ so I don’t think they will hate you. And if they do, I won’t let them lay a hand near you. Alright – I got to go so I will talk to you later. Text me when you get a chance. Love you and good luck.”

“Love you, too. Bye Linds.”

“Bye Dale.” Dale hung up, still full of mixed emotions as he made his way back to teh trailer. He was glad that they had a compromise and they could keep in contact. He was also thankful to hear that she would be safe while she was gone. Though he also felt heartbroken with the time they’d be apart. Lastly, a bit of fear touched the surface as he wondered whether he could really make this all work out. Would the judge listen to their requests?

“How’d it go?” Tony asked when Dale reached the hauler, having made his way down the steps. From his vantage point, he saw the tears that flowed, but also saw signs of them stopping.

“She’s going to stay with her parents till I make sure Jeff can’t squeal,” Dale answered and Tony smiled. He was glad that the pair had a compromise and knew that they could make the plan work in full force. “Let’s go see these cops so I can head home. I just never imagined celebrating a win at Bristol like this.”

Tony delivered the news to Rick, who sat with Angelica and Linda. It was agreed then that Rick and Linda would head home with Angelica, meeting Dale and Tony at the house once they got back. Rick knew from the sounds of it that Dale was in for a long night in talking about what had happened.

 

The Bruises – Chapters 16 Thru 20

thebruises

Chapter 16: My Visit

Dale Jr.’s House – Monday following Indianapolis

Jeff knocked on the door, knowing that he was home. Dale had been at Hendrick Motorsports earlier that morning for the team meeting. It was there that he heard that he was going home after lunch. He also overheard Dale telling Jimmie and Kasey that Lindsay and Angelica were bonding well and that they were going out for a girl’s day. Wouldn’t this make it the perfect opportunity?

Dale opened the door, surprised to see Jeff standing there on the other side. With having no contact with him the past two weeks – except when work forced them together, they had not talked to each other at all. Dale thought that Jeff was listening to Tony’s threat without problems and that things would get back to the way they used to be.

“What are you doing here?” Dale asked, already curious to Jeff’s motives.

“I came to talk to you about something,” Jeff started off lightly, knowing that he would get to the topic on mind shortly. “Actually, I came to talk to you about someone. Does Tony Stewart ring a bell?” Dale looked down, knowing that what Tony had done had crossed the line. He knew that Jeff deserved something in return for what he had done, but he also knew the risk that was involved in what had happened.

“Listen, I had nothing to do with that.” Jeff then put his hands on Dale’s shoulders, knowing otherwise.

“He’s only doing it because of what I did to you and the fact that he’s playing the role of bodyguard. Now, you’re going to do something for me so that way he stops what he’s doing. I am not leaving until you text or call him and convince him to leave my ass alone. See, he better do that or else I will have something in mind for you and that lovely daughter of yours. It’s kind of a strange that way. Tony’s threat does lay on my mind, but it’s honestly not enough to stop me.” Dale looked down, nerves building in hearing Jeff’s words as fear was coming to the surface. What was Jeff planning on doing if Dale didn’t listen to him?

“Fine – I’ll see if I can make him stop.” Jeff then smiled as he watched Dale pull out his cell from his pocket.

“That’s a good boy.”

Hey. Are you busy?

No. What is it?

I was thinking. Appreciate what you’re doing to Jeff, but I think you should end it.

Why?

Don’t need you getting in trouble with NASCAR or anybody. Plus, the guys at the shop are pretty mad.

I hear ya. I just wanted to show him the pain you went through. At your request, I’ll stop.

Sounds good. See you later this week.

“Happy?” Dale then asked Jeff as he showed him the text messages.

“Thank you cutie,” Jeff answered as he shot a smile at Dale. He watched Dale put his phone back in his pocket, watching his moves carefully. The words see ya later this week and “bodyguard” were the only words that Jeff could think about as he watched his ex-lover move about in front of him. Was Tony the new flirt in town? “So how close are you with Smoke?”

“Just friends and if you’re wondering, no, we aren’t sleeping together. He’s just been here comforting me.” Dale knew that lying to Jeff was impossible so he had to let out the truth in Tony being his comforting rock. The entire statement was no lie, though. The only night they had slept together was that one night back at the beginning of July. Since then, they’d just been the close friends that they’d always been.

“Have you thought about sleeping with him? You can’t lie to me and say that hasn’t crossed your mind. We all know how you think, espically me. Now are you going to tell me a lie?”

“I’ve thought about it, okay?” Dale’s words flipped a trigger of instant jealousy on Jeff as Jeff pushed him inside, closing the door behind him. “I thought we had a dea-”

“Funny thing is if you tell Tony, I can still go and tell the world the three secrets and get your girlfriend under hot fire. So in the end, you’re the one still in shit water because you’ll have a bunch of criminals after your asses.” Dale focused his eyes on the ground, knowing that he had to find some way to make Jeff leave. But the thought of having a bunch of criminals coming after a mob princess and the thought of Jeff hurting Angelica had him met with fear that he didn’t know what to do with. “So I suggest you do one thing for me – keep this a secret like you were supposed to and hide it from Tony, or else bang bang goes Lindsay and oops, your daughter will be kidnapped.” Dale looked down, knowing those were two thoughts that he never wanted to be face. How could one man be so evil?

“How can you do thi-”

“It’s cause of how much you hurt me! Now, you’re going to do exactly what I instruct you to do. Upstairs right now.” Not wanting to argue, scared of what Jeff had said, Dale walked up the stairs. Part of him wanted to text Tony and tell him. But he couldn’t bring himself to do it as he walked into the bedsroom. Jeff was right. The minute he texted Tony, the minute Jeff let out the secret causing the mob to come looking. He couldn’t handle the thought of his family in danger and knew that he had to take what was about to handed to him. He just hoped that it ended soon and maybe Jeff would find some reason to stop in the near future all together.

“Now what do you want?”

“Lay down. What else do you think I want?” Dale shook his head as he turned around, facing Jeff straight in the eye. There was no way he was going through the pain of that again.

“You can do anything but that.”

“So I can go hurt your daughter? Okay!” Jeff turned to leave the room, when he felt a hand grab his arm. Looking back at the eyes that faced him, he knew that the mind had been changed. “That’s what I thought.”

“I hope you fucking pay for this one day. Has anybody ever told you that you’re the biggest bitch in the world, ever?” Jeff then gave Dale a shove, sending him on to the bed, stomach first, as Jeff shook his head, surprised by the attitude that he was being delivered. Jeff went to the side of the bed, grabbing Dale’s wrists at easy will and tying them together before tying them to the headboard of the bed. With a quick rip, he tore the shirt that Dale wore, throwing it to the ground.

“If you want nobody to know, I suggest you don’t leave any mar-”

“You just find a way to hide them, Earnhardt! It’s not my problem to deal with.” Jeff then undid the jeans and took them off swiftly as he kept his eyes focused on the man below him.

“Lindsay will be curious if she sees anything so that’s why I’m warning you. I’m trying to help you.”

“It’s your job to deal with your girlfriend and keep her from knowing.” Jeff then went into the dresser that he had always gone before from previous knowledge, taking out the one thing that he knew he needed. “I’m sure she’d understand you not wanting to have sex after everything that has happened.” With bare back exposed, Jeff gave the belt a flick, sending him smacking against Dale’s back as Dale let out a scream. “The pain doesn’t get old.” Dale closed his eyes, not wanting to think about it as he felt the belt go against his back not once, twice, but about seven times. He didn’t want to count it, didn’t want to feel it, but knew it was hitting him by the searing pain it left each time. Each smack caused a scream to leave his throat, in hopes that it’d be easier to deal with the pain he faced. After realizing for a couple minutes that there’d be nothing, he opened his eyes in hopes that Jeff would be gone. But seeing Jeff’s shadow cast over him, he knew that wasn’t the case.

“You need to leave soon. The girls will be hom-”

“Don’t lie to me, Earnhardt.” Dale let out a sigh, hoping that would have been his way out as he knew that Jeff wanted to keep this between only them. He knew that he’d need a bit of time before they got back to compose his own emotions so they didn’t know anything was up. “Anyways, I have a specia-”

“Can’t we save it for another time, please?” Fingers meeting the back of neck, moving slowly down his back in a smooth fashion, Dale knew the answer to the question was a no as Jeff was setting him up for what was sure to be the worst pain ever. “You know I can’t take when you do that so just please, don’t.” Jeff then smiled as Dale’s pleads as it just egged him on more, wanting to inflict the pain in hopes it’d be enough warning to keep things quiet.

In an instant, the soft touch turned into a nightmare as Jeff thrusted himself inside of Dale’s rectum, pushing up inside quickly and forcefully.

“Relax and have fun with this,” Jeff pleaded as he kept pushing himself inside, deeper each time as he heard the cries. “You know you’ve missed these long sexual nights. I bring you a pleasure that nobody else can.” Against the cries and screams that could be heard, Jeff continued pushing himself in, time after time, making sure to do it quickly. “Fuck you never felt so good.”

Couple minutes later, he felt Jeff pulling himself all the way out and then standing up as he couldn’t feel the pressure against his back of his answer person being there. Eyes closed, tears streaming down his face as pain filled him completely inside, there was only one thing he wanted to do – run away.

As he kept his eyes buried in the pillow, tears finding no way of stopping, he felt the ropes around his wrist come loose and soon be gone as his arms fell beside him.

“I fucking hate you,” Dale let out as he heard Jeff leaving the room. It was confirmed that Jeff was gone by the slam of the bedsroom door. Dale then rolled over, letting out heavy breathes from being tired and worn out, pain filling his insides and back, just glad that it was over. “Why did I ever think that he was someone that I could love? Why did I ever even go out with him? Fuck!” Standing up, Dale made his way to the bathroom, taking one glance to see his lower back was covered in dark red scratches right across from left to right. “Guess this summer means no going around topless.” The bruises had almost been healed from their previous meetings and with the summer heat in the air, there was no question that going around without his top would’ve felt good. It would’ve even been nicer for the times that they were in the pool.

Feeling vomit rise his throat as he continued to cry from the pain that filled him, he let him collapse in front of toilet, throwing up as the tears continued to fall. How could one keep this a secret?

 

Chapter 17: The Text Message

Stewart-Haas Racing – Monday following Indianapolis

Tony looked at his phone for what seemed like the millionth time, reading over the text messages that he and Dale had traded earlier the day. It didn’t seem right in Tony’s mind.

Appreciate what you’re doing to Jeff, but I think you should end it.

Why?

Don’t need you getting in trouble with NASCAR or anybody. Plus, the guys at the shop are pretty mad.

I hear ya. I just wanted to show him the pain you went through. At your request, I’ll stop.

Sounds good. See you later this week.

He thought Dale would be fully for what was happening, no questions asked, knowing the secret that Tony now held for him. Though it itched at Tony at the messages sent. Maybe Dale was scared, or maybe it was because of another reason.

Running his hands through his hair, he was wondering whether it was right to keep this a secret. He was doing it for the kids and Jeff’s wife. He didn’t want to see them heartbroken over what was happening. He didn’t want the kids asking questions. However, knowing the pain that Dale had gone through, he kept questioning his actions.

Hearing the slam of his office door, he instantly looked up, seeing two determined people standing before him.

“We know who it is and she has been bugging me about what you’re doing about it,” Ricky started and Tony rolled his eyes. He knew it would only be a matter of time that they’d figure it out that it was Tony by what happened the past two weekends. Tony had taken the liberty in not telling either of them viberally, not wanting them involved, saying that he had it handled and was taking care of Dale.

“He knows not to touch Dale and that’s where we’re leaving it,” Tony replied as he looked back down on his desk. “Dale is too afraid to say anything so we found a compromise. I have on record what he did to Dale one night – videos of it, photos of the marks on Dale. Once I showed him that, plus some other trusty blackmail, he agreed to stay away. If he strikes again, I told Dale to come to me and we’re going to the cops.”

“And your anger led you to do what you’ve done the past couple of weeks, I take it. Is that going to continue beyond Indy?” Tony shook his head no, as he looked over the series of text messages once again.

“And why not?” Danica then questioned, seeing as how Tony was avoiding them with a straight answer and strangely keeping his eyes on a chat message screen. “Rick? NASCAR?”

“It’s probably NASCAR due to the fight in victory lane,” Ricky commented, having seen how every broadcast network had replayed the finish and ensuing fight over and over already.

“Well? What is it?”

“You can at leas-”

“Yeah, due to NASCAR,” Tony lied, just wanting them both to stop. He had debated telling them the truth, but knew that wouldn’t be advised with how things were currently sitting.

“What’d they say to you?” Danica then asked, curious as she didn’t remember Tony getting called to the hauler. “Did they give you probation? A fine?”

“Probably probation due to the fight,” Ricky then commented as Tony shot a look towards the young driver. “That’s just my guess.” Danica then sat on the edge of Tony’s desk, curious as to what the driver was looking at. When she went to take a glance at his phone, he flipped it over so she couldn’t read the messages. “Danica, that’s not right to do.”

“What’s going on Tony? What did NASCAR say and what’s on your mind?” Tony then looked from Ricky to Danica, then back to Ricky.

“I first want to know how you got in my shop,” Tony then started, trying to change the topic. He hoped that they’d get distracted enough. “You don’t even drive for me. Security is crazy to let you through, whether you’re dating her or not. You could be here to steal notes.”

“You can blame me for that one,” Danica then commented, keeping her gaze on her boss. “Now answer the questions.” She knew that he was trying to change the topic by how he accused Ricky and the fact that he had cleared Ricky being allowed inside previously – just not down at shop level.

“Three weeks probation is what I’ve been told.” Tony then turned his gaze back to his driver, curious as to her attitude. “And as far as the text messages and what’s on my mind, that’s none of your business as your boyfriend politely put it. Now if you excuse me, I would like you both to leave me alone.” As he watched the pair of them leave, he looked back down at the text messages, seeing alarms in his mind. This wasn’t like Dale to do this.

Tapping his phone on the screen, he decided to send a “test” text to see what happened.

Hey. Are you okay?

Yeah. Why are you asking?

Just thrown off by that text earlier. Totally thought you’d love it.

I do, but Rick is going nuts and the guys are upset and we don’t need that. You understand right?

kk I hear ya. It’s odd how you guys are teammates. How is that holding out?

He’s co-operating enough in front of Rick so that Rick doesn’t sense a thing. He’s listening, for now.

Dale Jr.’s House – Monday – Post Indianapolis

Dale put the phone back down on the bed, throwing on a new t-shirt and jeans, knowing that Lindsay and Angelica would be home soon from their day out. His mind was screaming to pick the phone up, tell Tony about the previous events, seek his best friend out for help. However, his heart was telling him otherwise. The words that Jeff had said rang through his mind and oddly told him that they were correct. The minute Jeff was charged, the minute the secret would be unreleased and Lindsay would be in danger.

“Dale?” He heard, slipping his phone in his pocket and heading down the stairs. Biting his tongue, he put on a smile, feeling a strong sense of pain across his lower back. His legs also felt sore and tired from the sexual abuse that he had taken.

“What do you think dad?” Angelica said as she spun around, showing off her hair. While she had left with blond hair, she came back with chocolate brown curls that seem to bring out her eyes more. “Lindsay went to get her hair cut and I’ve always wanted to go brown so thought I’d try it out. I hope you don’t mind that I didn’t ask.” Dale then smiled, as he leaned against the wall, not believing how beautiful she was turning out to be.

“It’s beautiful and you’re not in trouble,” he told her. “It’s a great color for you.” He then gave Lindsay a quick kiss, pulling her close, just wanting to hold her and not let go. Feeling Lindsay close to him, seeing Angelica smiling, he knew that he had done the right thing. It was what he had to do to protect his girls.

“We had a lot of fun,” Lindsay told him as she released herself from the hug. “Got our hair done, went out for lunch, went to a movie, went to the spa and finished the day with a visit to Sherry at Lavender.” Dale looked down at the bags, peaking in Angelica’s to see some of the new tops, pants and summer dresses that she had picked up from Sherry.

“I can tell that you had fun. It’s great that you guys are bonding so well.” Lindsay then smiled as she watched Angelica head up the stairs to put her stuff away.

“She’s great, Dale. Totally has your personality to her, but in a girly way.” After Angelica was out of earshot, he pulled Lindsay back close to him, giving her another kiss.

“Thank you for being acceptful of the fact that she’s my daughter and I screwed up. I appreciate that. I don’t think there’s many girls out there that would really understand.” She then smiled, giving him a kiss.

“You accepted my past and what I did without judgement. Why should I judge you based on her? I’ve gotten to know you and you’re such a sweet guy. I couldn’t imagine being with someone else. Being able to accept each other’s past and what has happened is what makes us work.” He then smiled as she headed up the stairs. He was definately doing the right thing in protecting them.

 

Chapter 18: The Following Weeks

I know I am combining weeks together with some of these updates, but I don’t want to leave with something that is too short.

Pocono – Raceday

The week that followed, Jeff’s visits stayed to a minimum with only one more day before heading to Pocono before the next race on the schedule. To say that race went well is far from the truth as Dale ended up finishing 32nd, two laps down, after struggling to find the handling all day. It ate at him more to see Jeff celebrating in victory lane than the finish itself.

“It’s just one week,” his crew chief Steve LeTarte told him as they stood in the hauler. “We’ll get it back next week. I know Walkin’s Glen is next week, but we’ve been getting better on the road courses. Maybe we’ll play the right strategy and win.” Dale showed a slight smile as he laid back on the couch, trying to allow himself to relax. His back was sore as all get out as the marks from the whips with the belt were deeper than weeks prior. He just wanted to scream as being in the firesuit wasn’t something that was helping. However, with Steve being there, he knew there was no chance of getting out of it. “Are you alright man?” Steve’s question caught Dale off guard as he looked towards his crew chief with questioning eyes. He watched as Steve came over, sitting on the end of the couch, eyes focused on him. There was a sense of worry Dale felt in that Steve knew something was up or Tony had broken the ultimate promise. “You just uncomf-”

“I haven’t been feeling that great all weekend,” Dale cut him off, not wanting to talk about things further. To any person who wondered about anything, that was his answer. It wasn’t the truth, but it wasn’t a lie. Thinking back to what had happened with Jeff, it had caused him to throw up numerous times. It seemed that this round was tougher than the round before and made him regret even saying anything to Tony to begin with.

“Well then use this week to get yourself better.”

“Gonna try.” Dale then sat up, standing up and leaving. He knew there wasn’t much to talk more about their day with how ugly it had been and he wanted to find his own peace so he could get out of the firesuit.

Walkin’s Glen – Raceday

The week following Pocono saw a total of four visits – one each day. Dale never understood why and questioned Jeff about it the last day. Jeff told him it was for security reasons to make sure things stayed quiet and Dale knew the threat that was above his head.

So going into the weekend, there was no secret that the pain was evident. His entire back was covered with marks – probably 30 to 40 separate ones – as some were scratches while others were bruises of all different colors. His legs were sore from the sexual abuse and force that Jeff had laid on him each night and making his walks appear that nothing was going on was becoming harder.

To his surprise, though, the race went way better than expected as Steve was right. He managed to keep the lap times decent throughout the day and save enough fuel to win the race. The celebration in victory lane was big as Dale had both of his girls there for the first time for a win.

“Way to go Dad!” Angelica said as she wrapped both her arms around him in excitement. “That’s how you win one of these races. Told you that you’d win at a road course some time.”

“Thanks sweetie,” he replied as he kissed her cheek, before turning to Lindsay and giving her a kiss and a hug. This was how it was supposed to be. They were supposed to be a happy family with any threats over their heads and it felt great to be there together in victory lane.

“Love you,” Lindsay told him simply before Dale turned around to see the shocked expression on Dave Burns face.

“I don’t know what to ask about first – she being your daughter and the world learning that, or the win,” the reporter said as Dale looked towards Angelica with a smile, before turning back to Dave.

“There’s no hiding it – that’s the princess of my life,” he said. “That’s my Angelica. Sometimes the craziest moments in your life turn into the biggest blessings and she certainly is. But enough about that! How about this team? Steve was perfect with his strategy!”

Some of the team listened to Dale talk with Dave Burns, while some of the other guys were talking to Angelica, also surprised by the news.

“I should’ve guessed that you were his daughter,” spotter TJ Majors commented as she smiled.

“I’m surprised you didn’t figure it out sooner,” Angelica replied as she felt arms wrap around her. Looking up, she knew exactly who it was.

“You can also say that you have met the newest driver for KKR,” Kasey said as he let her go, going over to high-five guys. Kasey had learned the truth when he offered her the contract a couple weeks ago, but kept it quiet at Dale’s request. In a couple of weeks, she would begin driving for Kasey in quarter midgets. Once she turned 16, he had it set up that she would drive for his USAC Midget team.

“Congratulations!” Rick Hendrick told her as he hugged Angelica with this being the first time that he had heard of the news. With the fact that she had lived with Rick for two years, they had become close and planned to stay close moving forward. “I guess Kasey beat me to the punch of asking you to a contract.”

“Now now, let’s not all jump on her at once,” Dale commented as he walked over to the group, finished with the interview.

As he stood there between his girls with Rick, there was a smile across his face. This was what it was all about. Though behind that smile, the pain was evident as there was a secret that was buried and it had the chances of ruining everything.

Another set of eyes knew this in the form of Tony Stewart as he looked over them, not really regretting that they had kept it a secret. If they had just said something and taken the right measures, this moment could be happening with that secret looming in the distance.

 

Chapter 19: Planning

Michigan – Qualifying Friday

Dale sat in the team hauler, thinking over the lap in his head. There was no way that he could qualify 29th at Michigan. That just wasn’t possible. However, that was where he had ended up after practice and he knew exactly why.

The past week was starting to catch up with him majorly as his legs were pouncing with pain, sore from top to bottom in being pushed outwards so Jeff could do what he wanted. As a result, his insides felt like they were burning and Dale could only question as to whether there was torn skin there. Leaning forward to undo his shoes, he regretted it right away, feeling the pain that consumed his back from top to bottom. There was no question about the marks that probably resided underneath the t-shirt and suit. The first couple of days he had brought himself to view them in the bathroom with the mirror. However, the past week, he didn’t want to see what was there; he didn’t want the reminder of what had happened in his mind.

“You okay?” He heard as he sat up slowly to see Steve standing there before him. With having worked together for awhile now, they were used to each other. Steve could sense when something was going on that was distracting Dale or bugging him immediately. It was evident in his feedback on how the car was and the tone of his voice. Steve knew that 90% of the time that the effort was always there when something bugged his driver, yet this time knew that not to be the case. “Dal-”

“I just don’t feel that good,” Dale let out before laying back on the couch, slightly, not wanting to put the pressure on his back. If he could find a way, he would rather lay on his stomach for comfort level. However, he never did that – especially at night – not wanting the chance that the evidence would be seen. “I haven’t felt good since Thursday. I feel bad ’cause I know we have a better car than that.” Steve sat down beside his driver, eyes on him, and it was clear that things weren’t where they needed to be. The physical exhaustion was evident on Dale’s face from the simple day of a practice session and two laps of qualifying. What would happen come tomorrow’s double practices or Sunday’s 500 mile race? “Tell the guys I apologize. Gonna try and get better for Sunday.” Dale was then surprised when he heard another set of footsteps amongst the hall of the transporter, surprised at who had shown up in their hauler. “Tony, what are you doing here?”

“I knew something was up by how you were acting,” Tony started as he sat on the other side of the couch, looking towards Steve, before looking down at Dale. “And the only way to corner you with this was his help.” Steve then looked down, feeling bad for being part of Tony’s betrayal in Dale’s trust, but knowing that it had to be done with what was going on. After Tony told him everything, assured him that there was physical proof if he didn’t belief, shock shot through Steve. Steve remembered working with Jeff and how nice Jeff was. How could this happen? Though, another emotion hit Steve – concern. He knew that he had to help Dale.

“He told me everything and before you worry, we’ve kept it between us,” Steve then starts. “Tony only told me because he knows that I can help you most on weekends.” Dale sat up, looking between them, not believing what Tony had done. How could Tony betray him like that?

“And don’t you yell at me, Earnhardt. You should’ve kept your end of the bargain.” Dale looked straight at Tony, surprised by those words. There was no way that Tony could’ve figured out that Jeff was back. He had made sure to keep distance there.

“How do you know that I didn’t keep my promise?” Dale asked as Tony smiled.

“I was by your place twice this week and I saw his car there,” Tony started. “Plus, we never took down the security cameras, either.” Seeing the horror on Dale’s face from the realization, Tony knew that he had to set things straight. “Now don’t worry – I haven’t shared any of that and I really haven’t even watched much. Once I got a slight sight of the beginning, I shut it off.”

“Fuck you, Stewart. How could you not trust me when I laid down my entire heart to you, telling you every secret and trusting you with them?”

“Then why didn’t you tell Tony what was going on when Jeff came back?” Steve then asked before Tony could even say another word. “That trust goes both ways, Dale.” Tony then moved closer to Dale, knowing what needed to be done before they even moved forward.

“Let me see what he’s done to you,” Tony pleaded. “I want to help you – remember.” Dale then slowly stood up, dropping the firesuit off of his arms after unzipping, letting it fall to the ground. Underneath, he wore a white t-shirt, in which he pulled up so both Tony and Steve could see what lied underneath. “Shit! What the hell has been going on between you two?” Tony couldn’t believe the marks that were there as it was twice as bad as before. How could Dale honestly let this go on?

“I’m going to get the cops. That just isn’t right.” Dale then looked towards his crew chief, holding his hand out to stop him. He remembered the words that Jeff said to him and wasn’t letting either of them move.

“No – you are not doing that Steve,” Dale told his crew chief point blank as Steve shook his head in confusion.

“So you’re going to let this continue?” Steve then asked. “You realize the cops can stop him from telling Lindsay’s secret?”

“How do you know that for sure, Steve?” Steve then looked down, knowing there was no definite way of knowing.

“They can put in boundaries to protect you and Lindsay. They can put boundaries in so he can’t let information out.”

“There’s no definition of knowing that for sure and that’s what scares me the most.” Looking down, though, Dale had an idea of his own. “However, I’m going to chance my luck – but not yet. I need your help, both of you.” Steve then crossed his arms, curious as to this new attitude that Dale had.

“We’ll do whatever you need,” Steve started. “So what is your idea?” Steve watched Dale carefully as Dale put his t-shirt back down, picking up the bottle of Tylenol for a pair of pills, anxiously awaiting the answer from his driver.

“I can’t drive this weekend and we both know that due to how I am feeling so we’re going to play this into Jeff’s hands. Get Regan to practice the car tomorrow and perhaps by Sunday I’ll be fine. If not, we’re doing a driver swap.” Dale then smiled as he let the cold water trickle down his throat, knowing that it was the perfect idea. “With seeing my weakness, he will think that he’s won the battle of hurting my ass and agree with my plead to lay off for a week so that way I can find some strength. He’s done it before so he’ll take pleasure in that again.” Tony then looked towards Dale confused as he did the math in his head.

“That takes us to Bristol,” Tony said as he looked towards Steve and back towards their driver. “What are you thinking, Earnhardt?” Dale then crossed his arms as he looked out the window and saw Jeff standing out there, joking with a couple other drivers.

“Bristol race I’m going to show him who’s boss very quickly. I’m going to show him why you don’t mess with an Earnhardt and their family. I’m going to do it in a way that will be remembered on track by many fans forever. Steve, consider it your Daytona revenge. Then after the race, he’ll be fuming and the two of us will meet. At that time, call in the cops and he’s arrested.” Dale then turned back to the pair that sat before him. “I’m taking a chance in trusting that him being arrested will result in the secrets being kept by the advice you both give me. Considering that we’re cornering him off guard, he won’t have a chance to spill first. If he sees us talking and some security guard, he can drop it off easy. Plus, I want a piece of him before he pays for what he’s done.” Tony stood up, walking over to where Dale stood, knowing that the plan was risky. It could result in more pain and/or a secret revealed without being warranted.

“Why Bristol? How do you know you’ll get your chance?” Steve then smiled, crossing his arms.

“Cause we have a really good bullet for that race and we’ll be up front, ready to dice with the best of them,” Steve commented. “I’m ready for some Daytona revenge, even if it means ruffling some feathers. I totally now understand why you did what you did Stewart and don’t envy it.”

“Plus, I know him better than you both and I know how to mess with his mind if I want to,” Dale added as he sat back on the couch, flinching at the pain of the fabric of his shirt touching his skin.

Well – do you think Dale has a good plan? Or do you think it will backfire? I’ll also admit that in writing this plan out, it seemed to feel better in my mind than written out.

 

Chapter 20: Raceday

Michigan – Sunday

Dale sat in the team hauler, pulling his firesuit on as Tony and Steve sat on the couch, watching. They hadn’t decided yet whether Dale would run the whole race, and Dale had to still talk to Jeff about a week of nothing. The concern was garage wide, though, as people were wondering as to why Dale hadn’t done any practice on Saturday. Some of the drivers even stopped by the motorcoach to see how he was, and as always, it was put off as “I’m just sick. Thanks for the concern.”

Looking at the pair of people that sat there with him, it was evident that next weekend was going to be a perfectly planned ordeal. If everything worked out, then they could move forward without any issues.

“So, am I expecting to race you all day?” Tony asked as he watched Dale do the zipper up.

“I got enough sleep and atleast the sting off the pain that I think I’ll be okay,” Dale told Tony as he looked towards Steve at the tail end of that. Though even with that said, they knew that they’d keep Regan around just in case.

“You let me know on the radio if it becomes too much,” Steve commented as he couldn’t stomach himself how much Dale was going through and how he could keep a straight face with it going on.

“Steve is right as you don’t need to push it,” Tony added as he gave Dale a quick hug before standing up. With it being close to race time, Tony knew that he had to go check in with the team, even if his heart wanted to stay there by Dale. “I’ll see you out there.”

“You got it,” Dale replied as Steve and Dale watched Tony head out. “I’ll be back in five. I got to go see our dear teammate.” Steve rolled his eyes and with a nod, he watched Dale head out and go over to the 24 hauler. Steve kept his eyes focused on the pair, not wanting to miss if something a strange happened.

Once Dale got over to the 24 hauler, he found Jeff standing there talking to Alan and waited till the pair finished and Alan walked away. He watched Jeff turn around and face him, a smile coming across his face. There was satisfaction in seeing the pain that Dale was going through. Knowing they were far enough out of ear shot of everybody, Dale knew that he could bring up what he wanted to bring up.

“What do you want?” Jeff asked as he locked eyes with Dale. Dale let the full hurt of the pain go forth in how he looked back at Jeff, knowing that it was a must.

“I’m not sick like everybody thinks I am,” Dale started as he kept watch for people around them. “I’m just finding it hard to run this weekend with what you did last week.” Dale then focused his eyes to the ground, knowing that convincing Jeff for this to work would be hard. However, he knew Jeff well and all signs pointed to this working. After all, Jeff wanted this to remain as their little secret.

“Well, like I said, that’s your problem and you seem to be doing a good job covering it up.” Dale shook his head as he raised his gaze to meet Jeff’s, now worried Jeff would decline the offer. “So why are you her-”

“I wanted to see if you could let next week slide because of it being Bristol and you know how ruthless Bristol can be. Give me a week to rest up so I can be ready for that beat down, and then we can meet up and continue.” As he watched the grin cross Jeff’s face, worry hit him as he thought maybe he had said too much in his request.

“Fine, but I will see you on the Sunday.” Dale smiled inside, knowing that would work perfectly as the plan was set to go down on Saturday night anyway.

“Okay.” Dale then walked away, pulling out his phone and the chat window for Tony.

Part 1 complete. He agreed. He wants to meet Sunday so we got time Saturday.

Dale then walked back to the 88 hauler, managing to avoid the media and everybody, tucking himself back inside.

“Did he listen?” Steve asked instantly as he heard the door close and Dale shook his head yes as he made his way to the back, sitting back on the couch. “Good. If it was me, though, I’d go say something right now and get it over with.” Steve then stood up, ready to leave, knowing that his driver needed some time to himself to sort out everything going through his mind and the pain.

“It can’t end here,” Dale spoke causing Steve to freeze. “It has to end at Bristol.” Steve then turned around, facing his driver with surprise written on his face.

“Wh-”

“It all started in 2004 after my win and some late night fun. That was also the place that he found out that Jimmie and I slept together in Daytona. It just seems perfect, Steve.” He then laid back, shaking his head as he didn’t want to think about how things started with Jeff and him. “Things with Jeff and I started a year and a half ago at Daytona.” Seeing the shock on Steve’s face at how long it had been going on for, there was a realization that things had gone way too far. “I didn’t say anything because of the threats that he held above my head. Call me a chicken, but I don’t give a shit.”

“You’re no chicken. I don’t know what I’d do if somebody said something about Trisha and the kids. In my eyes, Dale, you’re stronger than I realized to be able to have dealt with this for this long.” Steve then continued his walk down the hall, leaving the trailer, shocked by Dale’s words for him. How were they able to keep it hidden all this time?

The race went better than expected that afternoon as Dale would run the full race, finishing eighth. As he stood on pit road looking down at Jeff, who finished sixth, there was a smile that came across his face. Bristol was about to write another memory in their book.

The Bruises – Chapters 11 Thru 15

thebruises

Chapter 11: Stewart

Dale Jr.’s House – Morning Night, post Daytona July race

Tony reached the bedsroom door, hearing the scream of pain coming from inside the room, just shaking his head. There was no question that he was doing the right thing.

“You better listen to me or else,” he said as he opened the door, causing Jeff to freeze on instant of it being open. Jeff wondered who was there, haven’t turned around yet to face the doorway. He thought it was probably Lindsay, curious as to what was happening. Though with a glance over his shoulder, he was surprised that it was indeed Tony standing there, instead. What was he doing there? Hadn’t Dale told all of his friends to stay away knowing that this was “their night”?

“What is he doing here?” Jeff asked aloud as he looked back towards Dale. He then turned his glance towards Tony, trying to think of something to say to get him out of there without complaints. “What are you doing here, Tony?” Without saying a word, Tony grabbed Jeff’s by the sleeves of his shirt, pinning him right up against the closet door. Their visit together would be short and sweet and Jeff would know then and there to stay away. “Let go of me. We were just havi-”

“Don’t try your lies on me, Gordon.” Jeff then looked towards Dale, anger written across his face. How could Dale tell somebody? Weren’t the threats enough to keep him quiet?

“How could you tell him, Dale? You do realize what will happ-”

“You better watch what you’re about to say and do after leaving this room because you could be in for a rude awakening. See, you’re not the only one that is clever with their knowledge of blackmail. Once I heard what you were doing to Dale, why and the reason he was scared, I knew what I had to do.” Jeff’s anger turned to concern as he looked back towards Tony, who had yet to loosen the grip that he held.

“What are you going talking about? What have you done?” Jeff watched as a smile grew on Tony’s face, now really concerned about what Stewart had up his sleeve as everybody knew that Tony didn’t ever play fair. “Stew-”

“I haven’t done anything, yet, but I will if you don’t start listening to me. After you leave this room tonight, you are not to set foot in Dale’s house again ever nor are you to ever hurt him or his daughter or his girlfriend EVER.” Tony looked back towards the bed, eyes looking towards his best friend that he now saw there laying in pain, crying.

“Tony, I told you not to interfer-” Dale then starts as Tony shakes his head.

“You can’t live through this private hell the rest of your life, Dale,” Tony comments aloud, before turning his gaze back to Jeff. “You are also to keep all three secrets safe without revealing them. If you dare reveal any of the secrets or hurt him, Lindsay or Angelica ever, I will make your life a living hell.” Jeff then laughed, not believing the words that were coming out of Tony’s mouth. How could he do that? There was nothing that Tony could do that would equal what Jeff was doing now.

“And do you plan on doing that, tough one?” Jeff asks. “There’s nothing that you could do to sto-”

“Everybody has secrets that they wish for nobody to find out, ever.” Dale eyes then turned to shock as he watched Tony pull some pictures out of his pocket to show Jeff. The pictures contained photos of Jeff sleeping with Denny.

“How’d you get your hands on those?” Jeff couldn’t believe that Tony had those pictures as he tried to grab them, but Tony kept them far enough out of Jeff’s reach, putting them back in his pocket. Jeff remembered that night vividly, remembered the couple of weeks that he spent with Denny before Denny met his girlfriend and cut things off. How was there pictures of the event? He thought that they were private, alone! “Who gav-”

“Somebody owed me a favor – that’s all you need to know.” Tony knew some photographers who were in the business of getting star photos. He called them up, asking them if they had anything on Jeff, saying that he needed them as blackmail due to some things that had happened on-track. The one photographer called him back, sending him the photos at a small price. The price though was worth it to Tony if it meant stopping Jeff in his tracks.

“How’d they get the-”

“Ever heard of the paparazzi? That beach that you went to – exclusive sex club beach in L.A. I hear. Well, there were some photographers who managed to get their way into the club and boom, they shot photos of all the stars that were there that day. The only reason that this photographer didn’t reveal it was because he has a heart. But when I agreed to pay him three million dollars without argument for the photos, he agreed. Now, if you notice, they’re dated the fall of last year. Hm, I wonder what your wife would say if she saw these. I wonder what the world would say if they saw these printed on the internet.” Jeff then shrugged his shoulders, knowing what Tony had was pity to what he had.

“Go ahead and send those out as I’m sure I can make up a good excuse for that.” As Tony caught his eyes looking back at Dale, he could see the heartbreak written on Dale’s face as Dale was probably thinking that the secrets would be revealed and life would be flipped upside down. However, to his surprise, Tony wasn’t done yet.

“There’s also a sex tape of you and Johnson together at Hendrick. It seems that you and Johnson fucked in the boss’ office one night. I wonder what Rick will say when he sees that tape lying on his desk. I wonder what the world will say to that.” Seeing as his words were having no effect on Jeff and seeing the heartbreak still written on Dale’s face, Tony knew it was time for the final straw. “Of course, there’s one final secret that I hold that could ruin your life forever. See, I never gave Kelley back the key the other night to Dale’s house. So earlier today, I came over here and checked out the bedsroom myself, knowing this is where you would bring him tonight as you have other nights.” Jeff swallowed, curious as to where Tony was taking this.

“Well, looks like Dale can get you arrested for trespassing and some other charges then.” Tony then laughed, not believing how Jeff couldn’t figure this one out.

“I set up some cameras in the bedsroom, and to your surprise, every thing that you’ve done tonight is recorded. So here’s how it’s going to work. If you keep your mouth shut and don’t hurt anybody or say any secrets, then I won’t say anything. However, the minute you cross the line, I will reveal the other secrets to those who need to see them. I also forward the record of tonight to the police, along with Dale’s confession and Lindsay’s confession of what you’ve done, plus the marks that are on Dale from what you’ve done. As a result, your life will be ruined worse than anybody’s here. You’ll be arrested on charges of abuse, rape, harassment, threats, among others and be put away in jail for years. Once word gets out for what you did, then I don’t think your fellow cellmates will play nice with you either.” A slight smile crossed Dale’s face as he watched the reaction on Jeff’s face turn to complete shock. He was glad that he had told Tony about everything now, not believing how smart Tony was in dealing with all that had happened. “I suggest you think about your decision very carefully.” Tony then gave Jeff a punch in the eye before letting him go and turning his attention to Dale. As Tony walked over to where Dale laid, tied to the bed, his heart was in pieces. He couldn’t believe that Dale had let Jeff do this to him for months. How was it humanly possible to let someone go through this for months on end?

“I guess you have a deal, bitch.” They both then watched as Jeff left the room and headed down the stairs and a smile came across Tony’s face. The plan had worked just like he’d hoped.

“Now he won’t be bugging you.”

 

Chapter 12: Thank You

Dale Jr.’s House – Morning Night, post Daytona July race

Tony leaned untied the final rope, freeing Dale from the tied position that Jeff had him in only moments prior. Tony couldn’t believe the tears that he saw on Dale’s face, or the ones that had continued since Jeff had left the room. He could see the pain there, more easily than other nights that he had been at the house, and it just broke him in two. Even if Jeff and Dale had some sort of past, this was isn’t fair at all.

Tony threw the rope to the side, sitting on the edge of bed, unsure what he wanted to do next. The biggest part of him wanted to cuddle up next Dale, wrap his arms around him and assure him that things would be fine. He wanted to be there to comfort his best friend. The other part of him was scared of what Dale’s reaction would be, not wanting to ruin the friendship that they had forged.

Dale looked towards Tony, before looking back down, still not believing what happened only moments earlier. He was proud of what Tony had done. He wanted to thank him and not ever stop thanking him. However, part of him was worried. What if Jeff didn’t listen? Then what would happen?

“Are you going to be okay?” Tony finally asked, breaking the silence. He couldn’t take it anymore as he wanted to do something to help. “Do you want me to go get Lindsay? I can do whatever you need.”

“No, don’t leave please,” Dale answered as he slightly glanced in Tony’s direction. He was afraid and he didn’t want to be left alone. With Tony there, he felt safe and he didn’t want to lose that feeling.

“Okay – I won’t leave you; I promise.” Tony knew that he was going to live by those words, not wanting to see Dale hurt worse than he was. Tony watched as Dale grabbed a pair of his sweatpants and pulled them on, followed by a t-shirt. As they sat there, all Tony could think about was how this would continue to be covered up. Everybody in the world would look towards him, thinking that he had the perfect life and there was nothing wrong. However, behind the sunglasses, behind the eyes, there was a battle there that nobody understood.

“Thank you. Thank you for what you did. I appreciate it.” Tony smiled as he kept his eyes focused on his best friend.

“I told you that I was going to help you, one way or another.” Dale then laid back on the bed once again, pain still filling his insides and legs from the horror that he had just went through minutes earlier. How could Jeff do that to him? He had been able to deal with the arguing, the slaps, whips – but that sexual abuse? It was beyond any level he could comprehend on his mind.

“How could he do that to me? How could he fucking tie me up like that and then stick a fucking bottle up my ass?” As Tony heard the words, he just shook his head and disbelief. There was no explaining what had happened. There was no human way of comprehending those actions. If Tony didn’t care about Ingrid and the kids as much, he would have just done away with Jeff totally. But knowing that would break both Ella and Leo’s hearts, he held back, hoping that the threats he laid down would be enough.

“I don’t know.” Tony focused his eye back on Dale, not knowing how to answer. “I don’t know what to tell you.” Dale sniffed back the tears that were still forming his eyes, not wanting to cry, but not able to stop them. The pain was too much. He could handle the physical – he was used to it, but the emotional pain that he was now feeling was too much to ever hold back an ounce of the tears that were coming.

“He knew that it would hurt me and torture me to no end; he knew it from when we were together and I told him that I couldn’t handle that. I know he wanted me to feel the pain that he felt, but that was just unbearable.” Tears came to Tony’s eyes as he heard the pain in Dale’s voice, feeling hurt as he knew there was nothing that he could say that would make it go away.

“Just be glad that it’s over.” Tony then crawled closer to Dale, scared of his reaction still, but wanting to be there to comfort him. “You’re safe and he’s gone and he’s not going to hurt you ever again. The second he tries to touch you, you just tell me and I will make sure that he doesn’t see another second without pain of his own.” Dale looked towards Tony, sniffing back the tears that were still there, just wanting the pain to disappear. He knew in his heart there was only one way how, but it was taking a huge chance after everything.

“Hold me, please.” Dale looked down as he felt Tony’s arms wrap around him instantly, pulling him close in a cuddle. Dale, feeling nervous with what had happened, instantly relaxed, the safety and security that he so badly wanted coming instantly as Tony’s warm body touched his.

Tony smiled as he watched Dale get even more comfortable by the second, cuddling in more, eyes slowly closing. The tears had slowly come to a stop, the breaths had calmed down and with his eyes closed, Tony knew that Dale had fallen asleep right there in his arms.

“I love you and I’m not going anywhere,” Tony whispered as he didn’t move an inch, even when he knew Lindsay was right there standing in the doorway. If this made Dale feel safe, then he wasn’t moving. He wanted to make the pain go away, no matter what it took. “Jeff won’t be bugging you guys. I gave him my own dose of threats.”

“I know – I heard,” she replied quietly as she leaned against the door post. “Thank you.”

“You don’t need to thank me, Linds. I’d do anything for him.” Tony then looked up from Dale when a blanket was thrown his direction, wrapping it around them both as he was meant by sparkling eyes and a smile. “You sure you’re okay with this? I mean, I don’t want to mess up things for you gu-”

“I’m fine, Tony. I know you care about him and I’m okay with it. If it makes him feel safe in your arms, then I’m not going to be one to bitch. I know he loves me, but I also know that right now, you’re offering a certain special type of comfort that he needs. I’ll go sleep in the guest room and see you in the morning. Night Smoke.” Tony just smiled as he laid down quietly on the bed, arms still cuddling Dale, blanket now wrapped around them both.

“Night Lindsay.” As she left the room, turning off the light, Tony closed his eyes slowly. It felt peaceful to lay there with Dale in his arms. It gave him a certian comfort that he knew that he had never felt before with anybody. He knew that this was exactly where he belonged.

 

Chapter 13: The Next Morning….

Dale Jr.’s House – Tuesday Morning, post Daytona July race

Dale walked into the kitchen, seeing that Tony was standing leaning on the counter while Lindsay was making breakfast. He wondered if they had talked about last night. He wondered what Lindsay had to say about Tony sleeping with him. He had woken up in the middle of the night, but with a quick snuggle back close to Tony, he found himself quickly back to sleep. It was odd at he could never get that comfortable that quickly with Lindsay, or even Jimmie before. He just kept thinking that it was due to circumstances and not thinking beyond that.

“Morning,” he said as he walked over to Lindsay and gave her a kiss on the cheek.

“Morning babes,” she replied as she turned and kissed his lips. Tony stood there, watching, a smile coming to his face as he was glad to see that they were in a good mood that morning. He could already see the effects of things being over taking their effect.

“And good morning to you too, Tony.” Dale walked over to where Tony stood, giving him an unexpected hug. Tony hadn’t seen it coming, but embraced it. “Thank you for what you did last night and thank you for being there for me after he left. I really appreciate it.” Lindsay then got three plates down, putting the food out as she brought the plates over to the table.

“Breakfast is served.” They all then sat down, beginning to enjoy the meal. Some may say it was odd for them to be sitting there as a group, especially with the dynamics of the relationship and the previous night. However, none of them complained as for some reason, it felt right. Lindsay felt that Tony deserved a nice well fed breakfast for taking care of Dale last night. Dale felt safe having Tony there with them, somewhat unsure of the connection beyond that, and knew that his heart belonged to Lindsay. For Tony, he knew that those feelings he felt earlier in the year were true.

“This breakfast is really good,” Tony finally broke the silence as he looked in Lindsay’s direction. “Thank you.”

“You’re welcome,” she replied as she kept eating, curious as to where the conversation would go. Before Dale had come down, Tony and Lindsay had shared some thoughts between them. They both were fine with what happened the night before, though they both had concerns for Dale. They didn’t know what the next days would hold with what happened that night and what happened the previous nights. The only thing they agreed on was both being there for him.

“So, how are you feeling this bright morning?” Tony turned his attention to Dale, curious. While he had thought about not mentioning anything, his curiosity and worry were pegged. “I mean, if you want to talk about it.”

“I’m still pretty sore but I’ll be okay,” Dale replied as he kept his eyes focused down on his plate, trying to put the thoughts of what had happened out of his mind for the time being. “I’m just glad that it’s over.” Tony smiled, slightly. He could tell that it was still hard on Dale, emotionally and maybe even physically, but the positive comment at the end gave him a sense of hope.

“That’s the spirit.” Dale then turned his focus up towards them both, knowing that the thoughts that had filled his mind since waking up that morning needed to be said. With things being done with Jeff, there was some unsettled business.

“After breakfast, I’m going over to Rick’s to talk to Angelica.” Tony set his fork down, curious by those words in what intentions Dale had.

“What about?” Lindsay also looked up from her plate, curious also, as they both weren’t expecting Dale to say that.

“She doesn’t need to know what Jef-” Lindsay started.

“I would never, ever think of telling her that,” Dale snapped back, and then took a deep breath, calming down. He knew that Lindsay probably didn’t mean to come out with it and face that strong of a comeback, but the comeback was warranted. How could he ever tell her?

“Is there any other particular reason that you’re going to see her then?” Tony then asked, somewhat quietly. He didn’t know if he wanted to touch the buttons after what Dale had just said to Lindsay. “Wait, how much does she know about Amb-”

“She knows everything,” Lindsay cut Tony off, knowing where Tony was going with his comments. “Dale explained that to her a couple years ago. As an 11 year old, she took it quite lightly, surprisingly, and understood.” Dale then took a deep breath, knowing the next 24 hours in making all of this work out right would be tough.

“With the Jeff deal sorted out and the fact that I love her so much, I want her to come live with me,” he started. “So I’m going to go over and talk to Rick, Linda and her to express my thoughts. Rick has always said that the minute I want her to come live with me, there was no problem with it. He was only doing the living arrangements this way because of my feelings.” Tony smiled, feeling pride inside in what Dale was about to do. He never understood from the moment that Dale spoke of Angelica to him as to why things were done the way they were, no matter the thoughts on what Brenda and Kelley would think.

“That’s a pretty big step,” Tony commented and then looked down, knowing the next batch of words would once again test the waters. “What about your mom and Kelley?”

“I’m going to tell them tonight at dinner. I’m going to tell them the whole story and they can think what they want. If they want to accept things and not be angry, then that’s great. If their angry at me or about the situation then I really could care less, honestly.” Inside though, Dale knew that it would hurt a lot if Brenda and Kelley came back mad or unaccepting for some reason at all. However, it had to be done. He wanted to be close to his daughter and have her at the house, no matter what.

“Well you’re over at Rick’s, I’ll clean out the guest room somewhat so she can put her stuff in there when she gets here,” Lindsay then commented. She wasn’t sure what to think of the idea, but knew that it wasn’t her decision. Angelica was Dale’s kid and this was Dale’s decision to make as to what would happen. Lindsay had seen Angelica a couple of times and so far, they had gotten along. If they could keep things that way, then why would there be any reason to complain? “Like Tony said, though, this is a big step, but I’m proud of you.” She then gave him a slight kiss on the cheek, knowing that the rest of the day would now be an adventure.

“Oh, and as far as Wednesday, I’ve got plans,” Dale then added as they both looked at him shocked. What else did he have up his sleeve? “There’s a certain short track that I should go to. She’s been begging me to come so I think I better listen.” Tony then looked towards Lindsay, curious, and Lindsay just shook her head.

“It’s not me that’s been begging him.” Tony then looked towards Dale, full of curiousity.

“Who is it? Karsyn?” Dale shook his head no, making Tony very confused. “Then who?” Noticing the smile on Lindsay’s face, Tony had only one other person in mind. “Angelica?”

“And he figures it out! Ms. Angelica has been running the legends, if you haven’t heard. She’s been running under her mom’s last name – Jamieson. That’s why you haven’t heard much, yet. Oh, and she’s been winning, too.” There was an instant moment of shock that came over Tony as Lindsay released the details.

“Wait – Angelica Jamieson? Holy shit! Why didn’t it click a couple weeks ago when Kasey mentioned her name to me?” Dale then looked towards Tony, now curious. What had Kasey said about his daughter?

“So what did Kasey say about my daughter, Tony?” Dale asked as Tony just smiled.

“Kasey was saying that he went by the short track and he could tell that this girl, Angelica Jamieson, had killer talent and had that racer’s instinct. He was thinking of bringing her into the midgets and wanted my opinion. I told him that I hadn’t heard much about her so I couldn’t comment. But wait till he hears that she’s your daughter.” Lindsay then smiled as Dale shook his head and disbelief. He had heard that Angelica had won some races, but didn’t know that she was that good. “I’ll keep it secret till you’re ready to speak with Kasey. But he mentioned something about seeing her after Daytona so maybe it’s a good idea that you’ll be there.” Dale then smiled as he thought about what Kasey would say when Kasey found out the details.

“Wait till he hears the news.”

 

Chapter 14: Meet My Daughter

Oh, and this story is basically written like year 2014-ish.

Brenda’s House – Tuesday Evening, post Daytona July race

Speaking with Rick and Linda had gone great earlier that day. They were perfectly fine with Dale’s decision, fully supporting him in what he was about to do. Linda had also made him agree to making sure they stayed in close contact, which Dale couldn’t deny. There was no way he could thank Rick and Linda enough for what they’d done.

Angelica, now 15, was excited by the news. She couldn’t wait to move in to her dad’s house. It was a moment that she had been waiting for. The relationship that she’d built with her dad over the past two years while living with Rick and Linda was incredible. She was excited about continuing to build that.

“Just relax,” Dale told Angelica as they walked up to his mom’s house with Lindsay. He was nervous about telling his mom and Kelley, but it had to be done. “It’ll work out. No matter what is said tonight, I love you.” He then gave her a quick kiss before knocking on the door. They were all surprised with Karsyn opened the door, as much as Karsyn was surprised to see Angelica.

“Hey Uncle Jr, hey Lindsay,” she said as she moved back for the three of them to come in. “Hi Angelica. How come Angelica is here?” Karsyn had met Angelica while she was at Hendrick Motorsports with Kelley the one day and as the story was, Rick simply explained her as a close friend.

“Rick and Linda went out so Dale agreed to bring her with us so she wasn’t home alone,” Lindsay pulled out the lie as she gave Dale and Angelica a wink. She knew they couldn’t spit it out that quick. They had to first tell Brenda and Kelley before moving to the nieces and nephew.

“Okay!” Everybody then trade hugs, saying hello to each other.

“Brenda, this is Angelica,” Dale introduced Angelica as the pair shared a handshake. “She lives with Rick and Linda. As I told Karsyn, they were going out and Rick asked if I’d keep her company. I accepted, before remembering family dinner is tonight. I hope you don’t mind.”

“It’s great to meet you,” Angelica commented, slightly nervous but calming rather quickly. She was meeting her grandma for the first time, not in proper fashion, but still, a special time.

“It’s nice to meet you, too,” Brenda replied as she kept her eyes focused on Angelica’s. “You have beautiful eyes, sweetie.” Dale then looked down, knowing from others that had found out – like Tony and Rick – that she had his eyes. He was curious as to what his mom was thinking, whether she was guessing what was to be said that night.

“Thank you. I can see where Da…Dale gets his looks from.” Angelica bit her tongue, having almost spit out the Dad word without thinking. It was odd to call her dad by his name.

The rest of the night continued on nicely as everybody talked about different things and enjoyed a nice dinner. After dinner, Dale looked towards Lindsay and Angelica, knowing that it was time to spit out the news.

“Mom, Kelley, can I speak to you in the other room?” He asked as he wanted to explain everything to them away from the kids and Kelley’s husband L.W. This was something he wanted to share privately, still unsure of how they would react.

“We’ll help the kids clean up and amuse them with some sort of game,” Lindsay commented as she grabbed a cloth and began wetting it, seeing how Wyatt had gotten food all over his face. He had started eating by himself not that long ago and it showed.

“Okay,” they both replied as they followed Dale out of the room. Kelley and Brenda sat on the couch as Dale stayed standing, now beginning to pace. He was beginning to remember why he had kept it a secret.

“So what is it?” Kelley finally broke the silence as she watched her brother.

“Does this deal with Lindsay?” Brenda then asked and Dale shook his head, not wanting to go down that road. Seeing as how Lindsay and Dale had been together for three years now, his mom had already taken him down the marriage road of discussion. That was a topic that Dale wanted to avoid as well, not wanting to think about what could come with marriage.

“This deals with Angelica,” he finally spoke as he stopped and turned towards the two females he trusted more than anyone else in his life. “She’s my daughter.” Seeing both of their jaws drop, he awaited the response that they would have for him. “She’s been living with Rick the past two years, as per my request.”

“Why not with you? Why haven’t we met her sooner? Who’s her mother?” Dale was taken back by his mom’s reaction and instant questions. Seeing the touch of anger in her voice, he was scared to continue, to tell her that he once ignored Angelica. How could any father do that no matter what was going on in their life?

“Mom, let Dale explain before you pounce on him,” Kelley advised as Dale took a deep breath, knowing that it meant it was his turn to continue. “Dale, I trust that there’s a good reason for this. Before we say what we have to say about it, why don’t you tell us the whole story? But no matter what you say, I will support you and your daughter.” Dale smiled, glad to see that his sister still had his back no matter what. He just hoped it stayed that way once she heard what he had done.

“Kelley, she’s a teenager,” Brenda then started. “You’d think my son would want me to meet his daugh-”

“I was scared of how you would react so I kept it a damn secret!” Dale cut her off, growing frustrated already. He then looked up at his mom, seeing the shocked expression on her face by his anger. He had never, ever, yelled at his mom like that for any reason at all. “Her mom is Amber. She called in February after I broke up with her and told me that she was four months pregnant with our kid. I ignored her, not wanting the responsibility.”

“How could you even think of doing that, Dale?!? Nobody, ever, no matter what abandons their own child. How could you tell Amber that no matter how you thought of her? I thought you were different than that!” Dale took a deep breath, keeping his eyes back focused on the ground, knowing this reaction was expected.

“I was young, having the time of my life then. I didn’t want the responsibility of a kid on my shoulders. Fuck – I still felt like a kid myself. That’s why I brushed it away, not thinking of it. I know that was wrong now that I’ve grown up and learned responsibility. I regret doing that to her because of how much I love her. I’m just glad that I have her in my life now. I know I can’t go back in time and fix that, but I can make sure that it never happens again.” He then looked away, tears forming in his eyes, as the heartbreak of what he did came to him. For years, he had put those emotions away, not wanting to face them after he came to realization of what he did. Though bringing it out and telling his mom and Kelley, it was enough to make him cry as the pain was all he could think of.

“Okay, whatever, you’re right – we can’t go back in time. So how did she end up with you?” Dale then wiped the last bit of tears that were forming, knowing he had to tell the rest of the story.

“End of 2004, I called Amber and told that I wanted a relationship with my daughter. We set up times to meet up and times to spend together and it was wonderful. A couple of years ago, Amber came to me and told me that she didn’t want Angelica anymore; she said Angelica was in the way of her becoming a dancing superstar. She was going to put Angelica up for adoption. Not wanting to face you guys and tell everybody, wanting to keep it as my own secret, I told Rick the whole story and he agreed to help keep it under the wraps.” Dale then looked up at both his mom and sister, curious of their reaction. He didn’t want them to be angry. He didn’t want it to change what he had with them. That would just cause more heartbreak. “After some careful thought lately, I decided that I wanted her to come live with me so I told Rick and now I am telling you the truth.”

“Why did you keep it a secret for so long? You know that even though we’d be mad at you partly, we’d be there for you because of the fact that you have now done the right thing. I’m proud of you for stepping up and being part of her life and forming a relationship with her.” Dale smiled as they traded hugs, glad that things had gone decently then planned. While there was some anger and frustration to start, at least things were calmed down. His eyes then lied down on his sister, curious as to what she had to say.

“I don’t know what to say except that I am proud to be an aunt and look forward to getting to know my niece,” Kelley said as she stood up to face her brother. “But don’t ever keep a secret like that away from us again.” They all then smiled as they walked back into the kitchen with the rest of the gang, seeing how they were wrapped up in a game of Kennedy’s favourite – Candyland.

The news was shortly revealed after that, filled with more shocked faces, but happy ones at that.

Lindsay caught herself watching Dale with his nieces and Angelica, seeing that crystal sparkle form in his eyes and a true genuine smile. It was probably the first true moment since everything that had happened with Jeff. While she wanted to be happy herself, there was a small pit of worry in her stomach What if Jeff failed to listen to Tony’s careful instructions? Then what would happen to their family?

 

Chapter 15: Revenge is Sweet

Indianapolis – Mid July

The week following at New Hampshire, there was still anger on Tony’s mind over what Jeff had done. Even though he had stopped things, it wasn’t enough. He wanted Jeff to pay in his own way for what he had done. It was only at that point would he consider them to be somewhat even. So when Tony found himself behind Jeff 100 laps into the race, there was only one option – turn him. The resulting contact had Jeff ending up in the outside wall, going down multiple laps before pairs.

Jeff knew exactly why Tony had done it, but bit his lip. He knew with what Tony had told him that he had no option but to take the abuse. The minute he made a move, the minute Tony would scream. Why did Tony have to get himself involved in this?

The following week it was one of the biggest race of the year – the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis. It was a race that meant a lot to both Tony and Jeff as they had both grew up wanting to win at Indy. Both had won there in the past, but they wanted to win again to savor that moment again.

In dramatic fashion, the race came down to the pair running first and second, Jeff leading Tony around the oval. Jeff had managed to find his way out front with some strategy, but it was Tony that had the quickest car all day long.

Going into the final two laps, Tony had caught Jeff and was determined to get the win no matter what. He knew how much the race meant to Jeff and knew that it’d be sweet to steal that away in good fashion. Tony rode Jeff’s bumper through turns one and two, giving the four-time champ a couple small taps. Tony knew that once they got to the other end of the track, it’d be over.

Tony drove it into turn three, going for the look underneath, before Jeff threw the block. Down in turn four, Jeff tried the same thing – except this time it didn’t work. Their bumpers caught and around went Jeff while Tony went on to claim the victory. As Tony crossed the finish line, a big smiled appeared on his face at not only winning on his favourite track, but also taking the win that Jeff wanted most from him.

“What’s Tony problem with you?” Alan asked as Jeff climbed from the car in the garage. In the end, Jeff was credited with a 15th place finish, to go with finishing 37th a week ago. Jeff bit his tongue before even attempting to respond to his crew chief, knowing that he couldn’t tell him the truth. There was no one in the world that he could tell that would probably agree with what he’d done.

“I don’t know,” Jeff lied to Alan as he threw his helmet and HANS back in his car, shaking his head in disgust. He wondered how long Tony would keep this up for, or whether this was the hand that he was dealt. If that was the case, then why bother keeping the promise? It wasn’t like he had a shot at winning with Tony’s games and he was just hurting his team. They had put so much hard work into both cars. They didn’t deserve this no matter what Jeff had done.

“You’ll get them next week,” Jeff heard, turning to see Rick was standing there behind him. ”I don’t know what you did to piss Tony off, but you don’t deserve that two weeks in a row.”

After talking with the media and once again explaining his displeasure with Tony, he knew there was one place that he needed to go. If there was a chance of making this stop, he had to confront Tony and tell him how he felt. So that’s what Jeff set his heart on doing as he made his way to victory lane.

Once he was there, he went up to Tony, pulling him away from everyone else. He wanted to have this conversation in private, knowing that nobody else could hear what they were to discuss.

“Is there a problem?” Tony asked, causing Jeff’s frustration to grow. “You blocked me twice. I don’t like when I get blocked.” For Tony, that was only worth about 2% of the reason as to why he had turned Jeff. The anger and pain that filled him from seeing the look on Dale’s face two weeks ago, from seeing what he had to go through, filled the other 98% of his reasoning. “You knew that you had it coming, Gordon.” Jeff then lifted his fist, frustration continuing to grow, and connected it with Tony’s cheek, delivering a punch that was full of his bottled up anger. He then went to lay another one before Tony grabbed his wrist. “I wouldn’t do that if I was you.”

“And why’s that?” Jeff asked as he kept his eye locked on Tony’s, ignoring the group that had gathered around them. Tony then let go of Jeff’s wrist and quickly delivered a punch to Jeff’s jaw line. “Fine – you got me, twice now. Can’t you lay off for the guys on my team?” Tony shook his head, knowing that wasn’t an option as this was his way to dish back his fair share of revenge.

“No because maybe you should explain to your team why you’re such an ass.”

“You told me if I stopped, it’d be over. This doesn’t look like it.” Jeff then turned around and left victory lane as Tony then smiled.

“It’s called you had to feel what he felt.” As Jeff heard those words, part of him wanted to spin around and spit he anger that he held inside from getting his heartbroken. However, that’d be just a waste of time. There were other things that he could do to get back at him.

The Bruises – Chapters 6 Thru 10

thebruises

Chapter 6: Angelica

Dale Jr.’s House – Saturday night, post July Daytona race

After hearing the words from Dale that the girl in the photo was his daughter and Amber was the mother, Tony had stood there in shock the past five minutes, looking through the photos that now rested in his hands. Why didn’t anybody know about Angelica? What was the big secret? What had happened with Amber? There were so many questions on Tony’s mind that thinking about who was doing what they were doing to Dale was pushed to the back burner. He first wanted to answer these questions as they just seemed more important now that he saw the photos.

“She’s beautiful, Dale….” was all Tony could bring himself to say as he handed the photos back to Dale, unsure of how to bring up every other question that was in his mind. There was a reason why this had remained a secret for what was 14 years, and getting that reason out was going to be harder than anything done so far. “I’m just surprised, honestly. Where is sh-”

“She’s staying at Rick and Linda’s and has been for the past two years,” Dale interrupted Tony, knowing where this discussion was going. “As far as everybody knows who has met her, she’s Angelica Jamieson, a young girl that they adopted from a friend due to some issues. Rick, Linda, Angelica and Amber are the only ones that know.” Dale put the photos back in the drawer, taking his focus off of Tony. He knew that in minutes, he would have to tell Tony what he did back when she was born and how he had come back in contact with her. It was something that he still regretted to this day, wondering why he didn’t knock some sense into himself earlier. How could he had let her go at such a young age for his own stupid selfish reasons?

“Oh….Why isn’t she living with you?” Dale stood up, facing Tony, knowing that the time had come in which he had to admit he screwed up.

“I messed things up when Amber was pregnant. I broke up with Amber at the end of the season right before the banquet, as you know. It was the right decision – no matter what – as what everybody was saying was true. Anyways, she called in February and told me that she was four months pregnant with our kid. Me, being young, still the partying bachelor and not giving a care in the world, really didn’t care. I didn’t want to be a dad at that age. I wanted to be able to live my life and have some fun, a lot of fun actually. So I told her that I didn’t want anything to do with our kid. She told me she wanted child support and I agreed to send her so much each month from the time Angelica was born.” Tony stood there, eyes wide open in shock. How could Dale had said that when Amber was pregnant? How could he had brushed things off, not caring? It didn’t seem anything like the caring side of Dale that he had grown to love over the years. Part of him was mad at Dale for what he had done when Amber was pregnant. He wanted to ring Dale’s neck for not thinking. A small part of him understood, remembering how Dale was back when he was young. It was part of the reason that Dale had hooked up with Amber. Despite everything, Tony was now curious about the whole thing. He wanted to know Angelica’s whole back story.

“So how did she end up with Rick and Linda?” Dale took a deep breath, remembering exactly how it had come, knowing that it’d take a lot out of him to tell Tony the whole story.

“When I had that wreck at Sonoma, I got thinking afterwards and it bugged me. I called Amber in November, telling her that over the off-season that I wanted to meet Angelica and start things off fresh. I told her that I regretted what I did now what I was older and more mature, and she accepted. So that turned into me seeing Angelica at least twice a month, if not more, but Amber and I didn’t talk as I told her I wasn’t ready for her.” Dale then sat down, looking down, remembering the last discussion that he had with Amber in where Angelica ended up with Rick and Linda. It broke his heart in the words that Amber had told him that night, but also left him with a big opportunity. “When Angelica was 11, Amber came to me and said that she didn’t want her anymore. She said that Angelica was a mistake in her life and was holding her back from doing what she wanted to do with her life. I didn’t want to lose my daughter forever, but I’ve also been scared to tell my own family and everybody that I know what had happened. I don’t know why – but I guess I’m scared, ashamed for what I did then and don’t know how they’ll react. However, I brought myself to tell Rick and that’s when Rick agreed to help me, saying that he and Linda would keep her at their house, have to go to school, feed her and such. Whenever you hear of me going to Rick’s to talk to him about something race related or my feelings, most of that is actually because I’m going to see her to spend time with her.” Tony shook his head, not believing what he was hearing. How could Dale be so scared to tell his mom and sister about Angelica? They both loved him so much and Dale would tell them everything that was going on in his life – no matter how serious. What was different with this? Though now part of Tony was worried as what did Angelica and Amber have to do with the continuation of attacks? What form of blackmail was being used?

“How does this connect with what’s happening to you, if I may ask?” Tony knew he was trotting down careful waters, not knowing as to how Dale would react and whether Dale wanted to tell him. He knew it had been hard enough for Dale to tell him what was said so far. As he saw a tear trickle down Dale’s face, he walked over to where Dale sat on the couch, joining him. The tears were already surrounding Tony with fear. What had the person said about Angelica?

“If I don’t listen to this person and keep it secret, he’s swore to me that he would hurt her. He swore to me that he would make sure I never saw her again.” By those words, Tony now knew the individual was male – not Lindsay for sure. So who was it? Who was hurting him? Hearing that this person had threatened Dale’s daughter, he wanted to scream. Threatening someone was so much, but threatening a teenager girl was pushing it over the limit. “I told him that I’d take it and not argue because of how much I loved her.” Dale wiped the tears from his eyes.

“Dale, please tell me who is doi-”

“I can’t, I’m sorry. I can’t bring myself to tell you who is doing this.” Tony then looked down, knowing there was a way out, but not sure if Dale wanted to take it.

“If you tell your sister, tell your mom, tell your family and everybody – then you don’t need to hide this. You can go to the cops and get this asshole arrested, Dale. Please do this.” Dale then looked up, locking eyes with Tony, knowing that wasn’t possible.

“This isn’t the only secret that he has on me….” Tony’s heartfelt concerned eyes turned to worry. What else could be going on?

 

Chapter 7: The Tape

Dale Jr.’s House – Saturday night, post July Daytona race

“What do you mean?” Tony asked as he sat up, looking towards Dale. Dale stood up, knowing that this secret wasn’t as hard as the last, but it still had it’s implications. He stood there, thinking as to how he would Tony the next bit that he was so scared to speak of.

“There’s another piece of blackmail,” Dale answered simply as Tony kept his eyes focused on Dale. They had come so far. Dale couldn’t stop now. Dale had to keep going and tell him everything.

“What is that?” Dale looked down, curious as to how Tony would react.

“There’s a tape.” Tony was confused by those words. What was so important about a tape?

“What’s on the tape?” As the words came out of Tony’s mouth, he brought his hand to it, covering it, knowing what it could be. “A sex tape? How did somebody get a damn fucking sex tape, Earnhardt?” Dale looked down, knowing that this was going to take a careful story to tell. However, a smile came to his lips, remembering what had happened on the day that the tape was made. That part was still special to his mind. “You better tell me the story.”

“It is a sex tape, taken from security cameras at Hendrick.” By those words, a smile also came to Tony’s face as he knew who exactly was involved in that deal – Jimmie. Well, that meant that Jimmie wasn’t the person doing this. So who was left on the list of curious characters? “Jimmie and I had sex down in the shop after midnight after one of his wins.” Tony shook his head in disbelief, not believing that the pair wouldn’t been careful considering how many security cameras were in that shop. As he stood up from the couch, eyes still focused on Dale, he was now even more curious as to who the person was. This person had access to security tapes at Hendrick. That meant that the person had people on the inside, or was on the inside. But who?

“I thought you would’ve been more careful while sleeping with him.” Dale then smiled, remembering how things were when he was with Jimmie.

“We were so attracted to each other all the time that we just couldn’t kee-”

“Gordon.” Dale then froze as Tony spoke the name, not believing what Tony had said. Tony then walked over to where Dale stood, frozen, knowing what he said was right on cue. Running the thoughts through his head about things at Hendrick Motorsports, thinking of who could find out information this classified. He also crossed that in his thoughts with people that would want to do something. Gordon was one of the ones that came to mind as it made sense. Gordon had a crush on Jimmie, slept with Jimmie back in ’01 as that had caused the divorce. However, once Jimmie laid eyes on Dale, that was over. Jimmie wanted to be around Dale and never away from him. The pair were together all the way up until the beginning of the last season, agreeing to stay friends but not wanting what they had anymore due to their own reasons. Gordon was jealous and this was his idea of revenge. “The person who is attacking you is Jeff Gor-”

“Get out of my house.” Dale was now afraid. Tony knew exactly who it was and also two of the three secrets that were held against him. There was a good chance that Tony could give away everything, causing the secrets to spill out, causing damage that could not be undone. Dale also knew that by the time the truth was out, he would be at the hands of his attacker, feeling the worst attack probably humanly possible. How could he let it slip to Tony? How could he hand enough clues over for Tony to figure it out? “And so help me, Stewart, if you say anything to anybody – I will personally make sure you pay.” Dale hated saying those words after Tony had only been there to care for him, however they had to be said. Dale had to make sure that Tony knew the definition of keeping his mouth shut.

“You need to tell som-”

“No, it’s not happening.” Tony rolled his eyes before Dale locked eyes with him. “And you better not say anythi-”

“Or what?” Tony hated to challenge Dale in that way, but it was his only option. He had to find someway to convince Dale to say something to somebody. Dale then grabbed Tony’s shirt to Tony’s surprise, yet Tony yanked himself away from Dale. What could Dale do if something was said? “What will you do to-”

“I will make sure you pay, one way or the other, because I will pay if you dare let any of this out. He has already said that if anybody finds out, he will hurt Angelica, he will make me pay worse than I have already and oh yeah, he’ll make sure that Lindsay ends up dead.” Tony froze, seeing the fear in Dale’s eyes. He knew that the situation Dale was in was tough, but he had to make him do something.

“He can’t do any of that if you tell the poli-”

“Part of it will happen, with or without him.” Dale then turned away right after he said the words, knowing that would lead right into the final secret that was held above his and Lindsay’s head. This was about Lindsay, not about him. but it was enough to scare them both. “There’s a third secret and it does with Lindsay. If it gets out, we may have some big problems on our hands.” Tony was surprised by those words, curious as to what the secret was. What could cause big problems? Some stalker ex-boyfriend or ex-husband?

“Well what is the secret then? Maybe if you tell me, I will shut up and not say a word.” Tony knew that the chances of living by those words were slim to none, but he knew that it would be enough to get Dale to speak, hopefully.

“Lindsay’s real name isn’t Lindsay. She had it changed for certain reasons.” Dale then leaned back against the wall, remembering when Lindsay told him the whole story after a year of being together. She was scared that night that Dale would leave her once he heard the whole story.

 

Chapter 8: Lindsay

Dale Jr.’s House – Saturday night, post July Daytona race

“Lindsay’s real name isn’t Lindsay. She had it changed for certain reasons.” Dale then leaned back against the wall, remembering when Lindsay told him the whole story after a year of being together. She was scared that night that Dale would leave her once he heard the whole story.

“What do you mean, Dale?” Tony asked, intrigued. From seeing Lindsay with him the past couple of years, he had gotten used to them together, thought there was no issues.

“Her real name is Leighanne Carter, not Lindsay MacKenzie. Does the name ring a bell to you, or do I need to tell you the story?” Seeing as Tony stood there surprised, Dale opened the drawer that held the pictures of Angelica and went beneath them, pulling out a newspaper article. “Feel free to read this, as that is what she gave me when she told me.” Tony read the articles, eyes turning to shock. The article was from a newspaper in the midwest, stating that 23-year-old Leighanne Carter is released from jail in the headline. Tony went on to read the article, seeing that she was a member of a Mob Family and had killed someone at the age of 14. Tony eyes turned back up to Dale, full of shock and sensing a different type of fear. Dale was dating a murderer? This was worst than anything that he had originally came here thinking. “Shocking, right? Now the article doesn’t tell the real story as to why she shot the other guy and why she changed her name. We’d been dating six months and she decided that she needed to tell me this because she wanted me to know the truth, to know who I was truly dating. Her father is one of the head people in a Mob and quickly, where she came from, she was known as the Mob Princess. Everybody who knew her father, their family to other families, knew of her.” Tony couldn’t believe what he was hearing as his eyes stayed wide open in shock.

“You’re dating a Mob Princess? Do you hones-”

“She’s not involved anymore with them nor never wanted to be involved with them – that’s why she changed her name!” Dale took the article from Tony, putting it back at the bottom of the drawer, already feeling bad for revealing her secret without asking her first. But he had to do whatever he could do to keep Tony from speaking to Jeff.

“She sho-”

“Out of self-defense!” Tony’s eyes came down from their shocked state slightly as he watched Dale turn his back to him, looking down. By that, Tony knew that Lindsay – or Leighanne as per her real name – had a good reason for what she had done.

“What happened?” Tony walked over, rubbing Dale’s back, curious as to what had happened. He was scared of what would come out of Dale’s mouth, but he also wanted to know. As Tony rubbed Dale’s back, Dale shook his head, still in disbelief as to what Lindsay had told him late that night when she confessed everything. The minute he heard her story, seen the emotion in her voice, he promised himself that he would always love her and not let her secret get in the way. He also promised her that he would keep it between them, not letting anybody know what had happened. Now there were two people that knew – Jeff and Tony. “Dal-”

“The son of a bitch was rapping her and was going to kill her to get back at her parents, so she shot him.” Dale then turned around, facing Tony. It was hard to tell somebody else her secret, but it had to be done.

“So when she got out of jail, wanting to leave that life behind, she changed her name and moved to North Carolina?” Dale shook his head yes as Tony stood there, still surprised by what Dale had told him. “Out of all the things you could tell me about Lindsay, this is probably the most shocking. I now understand why you’re scared if this secret gets out. I’m sorry…” Tony then turned away, knowing he had a lot of thinking to do. When he originally walked in the door earlier that night, he had planned on forcing Dale to tell the police about what was happening and deal with it. He was also determined to kick someone’s ass. However, now hearing the secrets, feeling the fear especially from the last one, he was now scared. What if the secrets got out? What if something happened to Dale and Lindsay? “You need to do something about what Jeff is doing to you, regardless of how afraid you are about what you have told me.” Dale knew that Tony was right. He knew that he couldn’t take what was happening much longer as it was hurting him, emotionally more than physically. But could he honest chance the secrets, especially this one, getting out?

“I know I do, but I can’t. I’m afraid for not only myself, but Lindsay.” Tony turned back to Dale, sensing that fear himself, but also knowing that something had to be done. They couldn’t live in fear everyday.

“You need to tell your parents about Angelica and then you need to tell Jimmie about the tape and see if we can get it destroyed. Beyond that, the police will protect you whoever tries to attack you or Lindsay IF he manages to let the secret out.” Tony then wrapped his arms around Dale, knowing that he had to do whatever necessary to make Dale speak his mind.

“The police may have their protection, but we’ve seen many times how that has failed and I’m not taking chances that I don’t need to chance.” Dale then broke the hug off, knowing what he had on his mind. “Give me some time. I’m trying to find enough dirt on Jeff that I can hang it over his head to get him to at least keep Lindsay’s secret safe forever. Once he agrees to that, I will give him the satisfaction of revealing the other two and then it will be over.” Tony shook his head, knowing that wasn’t enough to satisfy him.

“What about telling the cops and making him pay for what he has done? They’d put him awa-”

“That would make him tell her secret and I told you – I can’t chance that!” Dale then began to walk away, knowing that once again, he was through with Tony bugging him. Now he feared that Tony would say something and ruin everything, though. Tony followed, knowing that he couldn’t lose Dale’s trust. As much as he wanted to force Dale to say something, he also wanted to be there for Dale if Dale was going to keep his mouth shut. “Just leave, please. I’m don-”

“I’m done begging you to tell; I’m here to say that I’ll be here to support you, be there for you, till you can work this out your way. You need somebody that you can talk to, somebody to get your feelings out and I’m willing to be that guy. I won’t say anything to anybody till you say something.” Dale turned around, a slight smile forming on his face. A friend was exactly what he needed as there were nights when things would be too tough for him to handle, but things to not tell Lindsay. He also knew he could trust Tony by what Tony had said then and earlier. By knowing the secrets, Tony was his only option.

“Thank you for that and thank you for being a friend.” Dale then wrapped his arms around Tony, pulling him close, wanting to right then and there let out his tears that he had been holding back long enough. “I’m sorry that I haven’t co-operated like you would have wanted.”

Tony rubbed Dale’s back, knowing that it felt wrong to keep this going and let things continue. However, that was how it was going to have to be. If Dale wasn’t going to say anything, then Tony wasn’t going to let him fight through it alone.

 

Chapter 9: Anger

Hendrick Motorsports – Morning Afternoon, post Daytona July race

Dale sat in his office, going over some paperwork and getting things signed that needed to be signed so that way he could get out of there as quick as he could. So far, he had avoided Jeff since the incident that happened on Saturday night. He heard Steve yelling at Jeff and then heard Rick reminding Jeff about the definition of teammates. Dale knew that it would all equal him getting the blunt of the pain that was to be enforced. That’s why he knew he had to avoid Jeff at all costs, getting what needed to be done and out of there.

As Dale read over one of the many papers before him on his desk, the click of his office door being closed caught his attention as he looked up to see Jeff standing there. Dale swallowed hard in his throat, knowing what was coming. However, part of him was calm. They were still at the shop, they were in the office – Jeff wouldn’t try anything there……right?

Hoping that Jeff would sense that he was busy and want to push things aside to later that night, Dale looked back down at what he was reading, continuing to lead down the page and signed it, tossing it to the side with the rest of the papers to return. As Dale went to pick up the next piece of paper on the pile, he watched as another hand grabbed it, placing it back down on the stack of papers that sat on his desk.

“Can I help you?” Dale asked as he looked up at Jeff, curious as to where Jeff was going about things. He watched as Jeff came around the desk, sitting on the edge of it so they were right close to each other. Dale now regretted closing the blinds, knowing that nobody could see what was about to happen. Though as Dale thought it over again, Jeff wouldn’t chance anything here. There’d be a chance of someone walking in on them or a chance of someone hearing them. Keeping his eyes focused on Jeff, he watched as Jeff sat there, crossing his arms over his chest, not knowing what the next words spoken would be.

“How about you go tell your crew chief to fucking get off my ass?” Jeff spit out and Dale shook his head. He knew Steve was going to say something, no matter what he did. He had tried to convince Steve not to say anything, knowing that Rick would already be saying enough, but Steve’s anger was boiled over to a point that Dale hadn’t expected. “He came and yell-”

“I tried to tell him that you did it by accident – knowing myself that you didn’t – but anyway, I tried to tell him that you did it by accident, that you got loose.” Jeff then grabbed Dale’s wrist, holding it tightly as Dale didn’t lose any focus. There was no chance that Jeff would push things to the next level there so why was he worried?

“Well that’s a good boy of you to do that, but you’re attempt failed. Just like your attempts to make me feel better over everything that happened have failed.” Dale then looked down, remembering the relationship that he used to have with Jeff, remembering how he got with Jimmie and how Jeff had then confided his anger with Dale to him at a later time.

“I’m sorry I hurt you, but I couldn’t lie to you.” Dale and Jeff used to have a special relationship, something that was perfect. However, in the midst of the 2006 season, it was broke apart when Dale developed feelings for a certain teammate of Jeff’s and after some experimenting, those feelings turned into the relationship that they held for a good four years.

In behind that, though, there was one person who was left out, heartbroken because his lover had left him for what was supposed to be his new little pet and not let him in the action. The months that followed weren’t any close to being better with no luck, and then adding to the pain was the fact that neither would accept him as their lover once the break-up happened. That’s when Jeff flipped, angry at them both, knowing he had to do something about it. That’s when he began doing his research, knowing that the person to go after with his anger with Dale just ’cause there was more dirt dug up there.

“If only you would’ve told me that you loved him before you slept with him three times behind my back,” Jeff commented to Dale as Dale looked down, remembering the span of two months in which that happened. Dale had felt feelings for Jimmie, but didn’t want to leave Jeff if the feelings proved out to be nothing. That’s why he made the decision to consult with Jimmie, to push those feelings and see where they ended up before telling Jeff. The consulting led to sleeping together and on the third night, it was Jeff who caught them together in Dale’s bed.

Shortly after, Dale confessed everything in the span of the two months, not wanting to totally blow Jeff off the wrong way. The result would be Jeff angry, stomping out of both their lives. The friendship that is now shown at the tracks between Jeff and Dale and then also Jeff and Jimmie is just for show to keep the boss happy.

Jeff then pushed himself on to Dale’s chair, still gripping Dale’s wrist, not willing to let go as he had to make his point clear to the man before him.

“I’m sorry,” Dale pleaded once again in hopes to find some sort of sympathy. “I never mea-”

“Stop your pleading because I’m way beyond that with you now,” Jeff cut him off, keeping his voice in a low, dark tone. “Just be at the house tonight because I will be by, like always.” Jeff then let out and stood up, turning and walking out the door as Dale kept his focus on the ground.

He really felt bad for what had happened with Jeff before and knew that’s why this was going on. However, it still wasn’t right or fair, and it still hurt when Jeff came over for his nightly deed. Dale just hoped that for that night alone it would be short and kept to a minimal amount of pain.

 

Chapter 10: The Visit

Dale Jr.’s House – Morning Night, post Daytona July race

Dale led Jeff up the stairs to the bedsroom, not protesting. He knew that it would make it worse and by the lecture hours earlier at the shop, he knew he was in for a long night. Jeff would probably be there for a couple of hours, before leaving Dale to deal with the pain for the rest of the night. The only good thing that he was glad about was that Jeff chose to stop by on Monday, giving him the rest of the week before race weekend to get it out of the way.

Once Jeff was in the bedsroom, he swung the door closed, knowing that this was between only them. Jeff was certain that Dale would discuss the details with Lindsay, but that didn’t matter.

“Where do you want to begin?” Jeff asked, surprising Dale. Typically it’d be right to the point, pain inflicted, no questions asked. Dale kept his eyes focused down to the floor, not knowing how to answer, as he felt Jeff’s fingers wrap around his wrist tightly, tighter than in the office earlier. “I asked you a question, Earnhardt.” Dale didn’t know what to say, just wanting to get the night over with as quick as possible. In an instant, a hand grabbed his chin, forcing Dale to change his gaze and focus right on Jeff.

“It’s up to yo-”

“I asked you a damn question so give me a damn fucking good answer.” Dale closed his eyes, thinking. What could he say to calm Jeff slightly? What would cause the least pain? Running the previous nights through his mind, he knew the options were thin and far between.

“I gave you my answer.” Dale debated about the options, but didn’t want to force his fate down hard. How could he choose between the options that lied before him? “It’s up to you so let’s just get this over with.”

“So is that how you feel about it? Because for a minute, I thought I’d see that caring side that tried to apologize to me at the shop. I thought for a minute that maybe you still cared.” Dale’s eyes opened in shock, not believing the words that Jeff spoke. Was Jeff hoping that in some way that they’d end up back together knowing that things were over with Jimmie? Did Jeff think that somehow Dale could forgive him for what he had done? “But I guess that isn’t possible, right?” Dale took a deep breath, many thoughts running through his mind. Should he pretend to love Jeff? Should he try to defer him off that way?

“I meant it when I apologized to you because I felt bad for what I did.” In saying those words, Dale chose them carefully. He had felt bad, but not anymore. Any pain that Jeff felt from what happened then was micro to what he felt now with what Jeff was doing to him. As the two locked eyes, Dale trying to see where Jeff wanted to take this, Jeff let go of Dale’s wrist and placed both hands on Dale’s shoulder, giving him a hard shove back. Dale, not realizing it was coming, went back into the dresser, feeling the edge dig into the middle of his back. Slowly, he stood up, shaking his head, not believing what had happened, but also knowing that it was just the beginning.

“Do you still feel bad for what you did?” Jeff then walked over to where Dale stood, knowing that he only had minutes to pounce with his next move to make it worth while.

“No, especially after what you’ve done to me and the two people that mean the most to me.” Dale wasn’t about to lie. Why should he lie when he knew that there’d be just pain in the end? Slowly standing up, he focused his eyes on Jeff, ready to say what he wanted to say. After the confrontation with Tony a couple nights ago, something had come over to him. Tony was right. All he had to do was do what he did when Tony grabbed him. “How can I feel bad for hurting you when I deal with this pain daily now? How can I feel bad for hurting you when you have raped Lindsay too many times to fucking count?” Jeff then gave Dale another shove, sending him back against the dresser edge, causing Dale to bite his tongue in pain. He knew there’d be a bruise there in the morning, if not a cut from the edge of the wood. Adding to the fact that it was being done on top of previous bruises and pain already there, it just added to what he was feeling. “How can you threaten my daughter when you have two kids of your own? How would you feel if somebody threa-”

“Shut up!” Dale kept his eyes focused to the ground, forcing himself to stand back up, knowing that he’d either end up back in the dresser or somewhere else in the room.

“You would ha-”

“I told you to shut your fucking little trap.”

“Or what, Jeff?” Dale knew he was seriously testing the waters, however what did he have to lose? Jeff was there to hurt him and would do anyway, so why not have a little discussion about things on the way to that pain? At least it would feel somewhat worth while. “What can you do to me that you haven’t done already? You’ve put me through your ringer of pain so many times that I’m used to it. There isn’t anything that you can do that would be worse than any of the times before. You’re only doing this because you can’t handle the pai-”

“Say another word and I will send a certain video to every person around this world.” Dale closed his mouth, knowing what that meant. While the video wasn’t that much of a big deal – okay, it was since it was a video of him and Jimmie together having sex. He knew that Jimmie would be upset about it and that letting the world see that would not be the best idea. However, it wasn’t the worst of the three threats that Jeff had to work with. He watched a smile cross Jeff’s face as Jeff grabbed his shirt, forcing him to the bed. This was usually how things went – some arguing, some pushing and then to the bed. Following that, there would be instructions for Lindsay to come up to the room. Dale closed his eyes, not wanting to witness himself in view as to what was about to happen next as Jeff came over, grabbing both of his wrists. Dale knew he was stronger, knew he could fight it, but wasn’t willing to as he knew what he had to keep his daughter and girlfriend safe. He would do anything to protect them.

“You’re lucky that the thought of prison and being locked away from everybody scares me enough to make me not hurt you.” Dale cringed as he felt the ropes go around his wrists, arms above his head. It was all part of the torture that Jeff inflicted each time that they met. “Watch how tight you make those; I can’t hide marks on my wrists if you want to keep this between us. I already had a hard enough trouble explaining the scratches on my ar-”

“Tough luck. That’s for you to deal with.” Even with his eyes closed, he knew what was happening as he heard Jeff playing with the buckle on his jeans, quickly undoing it and sliding the jeans off. In typical fashion each time, he’d be stripped down to nothing before wiped or slapped, whatever the preference of that night. “And as for what will I do to you, I have a special treat for tonight that I hope you enjoy.” Dale was confused by those words, yet afraid. What was Jeff planning that’d be different than all of the other nights?

“What is that?” In an instant, Dale knew what it was – now regretting the words he spoke earlier – as he felt pressure up inside his ass, knowing that something was being stuck up his rectum, but what?

“I brought along a bottle of Pepsi that I had just finished and hey, it makes for a good sex toy.” Jeff watched as Dale bit his lip, knowing that pain was filling Dale’s insides as he continued to force the bottle in deeper.

“Fuck!” Dale screamed, the pain being worst than any other pain that he had felt any night as Jeff continued to slide the bottle up inside, and then back out in a forceful quick nature. “FUCK that hurts you son of a bitch!” Tears streamed down Dale’s eyes as his insides were yelling at him, wanting it to stop, tensing and closing in a way to hopefully send enough signals for it to end.

“If you would relax and enjoy it, then it wouldn’t hurt so bad. Did you ever think of that?” Dale shook his head, knowing that he couldn’t. Jeff knew from their time together that he hated anything up his butt as it gave him the most uncomfortable pain ever.

“You know I don’t like this nor can handle the pain that it gives me….Holy Shit!” Dale felt his body cringe at the pain, tears streaming down his face, just hoping that it would end soon. “Please stop it. I’ll do anything, I swear.” However, the pleads made to no avail as he felt the bottle go deeper inside of him, knowing that it had to pushing something that it shouldn’t be inside of him. As he felt his insides hurting, vomit rose in his throat, as he felt Jeff grab his dick with his other hand, squeezing it hard. How could one man inflict so much pain at once in two different spots?

“Nah, this is perfect. It’ll teach you for trying to deceive me into thinking that you feel sorry for what you did.”

Downstairs, Lindsay sat on the couch, feeling disgusted by the screams that she heard coming from the upstairs. She could only guess what was happening, but tried to not imagine it as she knew she couldn’t handle it. The minute she probably pictured the worst picture possible in her mind, she’d probably take one of the hunting guns and put it to good use.

As she sat there, she heard the front door open, surprised. Who was here? Why hadn’t they knocked? As she went to stand up, she saw a figure appear in front of her, knowing exactly who it was. She knew that Tony now knew everything and by Dale’s words, Tony was supposed to just be there to comfort and help them deal with it, not saying a word till allowed. So why was he there?

“I know Jeff is here right now….” Tony let out in a whisper as Lindsay shook her head. She knew right away when Dale said that he mentioned something that it was a bad idea.

“And you need to go, please,” she begged as she walked over to where he stood. If Jeff found out that Tony knew about it and was downstairs at that very moment, it’d be war and there’d no secrets to hide anymore. “He can’t find out that you’re here. Come back in abou-”

“I’m not leaving, Lindsay.” Tony knew what he was doing and he knew why he was there. He knew Jeff was going to be there that night and that had caused him to set up a plan of his own of attack. He was going to end what was going on, once and for all. He couldn’t take seeing the pain on either of Dale’s or Lindsay’s faces as they talked about what Jeff had put them through. “There’s a reason that I am here tonight, specifically tonight. And don’t you worry, what I have planned will end this once and for all?” Tony then made his way up the stairs as Lindsay stood there, shaking her head. Why did Dale have to go and tell Tony everything?

The Bruises – Chapters 1 Thru 5

thebruises

Chapter 1: Who Did This?

June – Michigan Int’l Speedway – Post-Race

She felt bad, real bad. She never meant to get into him. But when the tire blew, she had no control of the car and felt the contact right away. Why did she have to wreck him? Why not somebody else?

“I just want to go apologize,” she told Ricky as they were packing their bags in the motorcoach. Ricky, meanwhile, had a decent run as he had finished 13th. “I’ll be right back.” She gave him a kiss before heading for the door, knowing that he’d be ready by the time she got back. She walked through the motorcoach lot, knowing exactly where she was going. She had been by his motorcoach plenty of times, talking to him about an array of things.

Meanwhile, inside of his motorcoach, he just wanted to scream as he thought he had the car to win that day. He thought that at the end of the day, his team would be celebrating in victory lane. Instead, he was wrecked out with about 15 laps to go because of her flat tire. He knew he couldn’t be mad as it was an accident, but it still pissed him off.

“Figures he’d win,” Dale commented aloud as he shut off the tv, not wanting to watch anymore of the post-race blitz. He had already heard enough to make him want to puke. “Why couldn’t someone else win? Anybody but him!” He then threw the water bottle in frustration, watching it burst open as it bounced off the one wall. “Fuck!”

“Dale?” He heard, startling him. Who was that? Why were they there? What hadn’t he closed the door after Lindsay left to go get something? He turned around, surprised to see Danica standing there. Hadn’t she left already with Ricky?

“Hey.” He didn’t know what else to say. She had probably seen the hissy fit.

“Hey.” She then walked up the steps slowly, knowing that he was mad by what she had witnessed. It was expected though as he had dominated the race before the wreck. Though, that wasn’t of concern anymore. He had been standing there topless, racing suit tied around his waist. She had gotten one look at his back and wanted to scream. She could see a trail of bruises, from his shoulders to his waist line. What was going on? She also saw scratches down his arms, which continued to grow her concern. She sat down on the couch as she watched him furiously try to pull his suit, knowing that now he wanted to hide it. “I just wanted to apologize for getting into you there.” She then grabbed his hand, stopping him, wanting to ask him about, still curious. “What’s going on?” She watched as he froze up, pulling him down to sit with her. Something was seriously up. She eyed the scratches more closely, trying to determine their depth. Had he simply fallen? Maybe he had gotten it from playing with the animals? Or was something a miss? “Dale, you can tell me. I promise I won’t say anything to anybody. What are these bruises and scratches from?” He then looked away, taking a deep breath, not wanting to talk about it. He knew exactly what it was from and wasn’t willing to speak of the details.

“It’s nothing, Danica.” He then stood up, pulling his racing suit back up, hoping she’d get the idea that he just wanted to be left alone with his own frustrations. “I just fel-”

“Like hell!” He then turned around surprised by those words. Did she really say what he thought she said?

“Can you leave please? I appreciate the apology and I know it wasn’t your fault, but I’d like to left alone.” She stood up, seeing the fear in his eyes, knowing that there was something that he was definitely hiding and it made her sick. Why wouldn’t he say something?

“Dale, I know these are caused from somebody hurting you. Now, who did it?” She wanted to be there to console him, help him. She hated seeing him like this. There was only one thing that she could think of. Somebody in particular wasn’t there at that moment and now he wondered if that’s why she had to leave so suddenly. “Dale? Did Lindsay do this?” He turned around, eyes full of shock. How could Danica say that when she knew how much Dale loved her? Oh wait, it was possible. Most times you see bruises on somebody you think of their significant other.

“No, it wasn’t Lindsay.” Danica then took a deep breath, knowing that she had to find out who.

“Then who was it? I swear I won’t tell anybody at all.” Dale then looked down, knowing what he had to tell her, despite every inch of him bagging to say the truth.

“I can’t tell you. I just can’t do it. I’m sorry.” He then walked to the back of the motorcoach, closing his bedsroom door, wanting to find something else to throw. There was his escape. He found finally tell somebody and get it out there as to what was going on.

“Dale!” Danica then yelled as she made her way to the back of the motorcoach, knocking on the door. She knew by the fact that he was hiding in the room that he had wanted to tell her. “Please tell me.” She then heard footsteps, turning suddenly to see Lindsay standing there. Now this wasn’t a pretty picture indeed. She then walked away from the door, wanting to comfort Lindsay, wanting to ask her. She knew what was going on. “Lindsay, what’s going on with Dale?” Lindsay looked at her confused, wondering why she was there. Shouldn’t Danica be cuddling Ricky at that moment?

“Lindsay!” The both girls heard from the bedsroom as Lindsay kept her eyes focused on Danica.

“What are you doing here?” Lindsay then asked, now really confused. She then closed the door, taking steps down the short hall way to be face-to-face with Danica.

“Lindsay, are you okay?” Danica then looked towards Lindsay confused. Why was Dale asking that? She watched the bedsroom door open and Dale step between them, wrapping his arms around Lindsay. What was going on?

“I’m fine sweetheart. I just want to know why she’s here. Why is Danic-”

“She came to apologize for what happened.” Lindsay then let out a sigh, realizing that her worry was for nothing. She saw what had happened on the track and it made her stomach sick. What was worse was the events that took place after that.

“Oh, okay. Well, if you’re ready, I’m ready to go.”

“Lindsay, I know about the bruises on his back and the scratches down his arms,” Danica then started, not wanting to leave without confronting Lindsay on the question first. “What’s going on?” Lindsay held Dale close to her, knowing of them herself and knowing where they were from.
“We can’t tell you,” Lindsay then started as she felt Dale cling to her. “There’s a lot going on that you don’t know about.” By those words, she knew that they were caused by somebody within this very garage, maybe this very room. However, seeing as Dale was clinging on her, it was probably not Lindsay.

“Like what?”

“I told that I can’t tell you who did it,” Dale then started lightly. “Now can you leave please?” He then buried his head in Lindsay’s shoulder, knowing what she had just been through herself.

“Can you please leave us be?” Lindsay then asked. “I can promise you, swear to you, that it isn’t me who is doing this. I’m going through it myself, too. We just can’t talk about it right now.” Lindsay then kissed Dale’s cheek, hoping that Danica would leave so they could be together, alone.

“Go Danica…..Thanks for coming and apologizing once again.” Danica then slowly left the motorcoach, thought swirling through her mind. After what she had witnessed and spoke about, she was worried. Who would do such a thing? “Did he do it?” After he watched the door close, he tilted Lindsay’s head up to his, wanting her to answer the question. He knew why she had been called away.

“Yeah, but I’m alright.” She then gave him a kiss, rubbing her hands down his back, knowing how much it hurt him.

“I just wish this could end.” Lindsay then wiped his tears away as they sat on the couch, knowing how much pain he was truly going through. “When he came looking for you, he told me that he’d make sure to come see me.” Dale then slipped his firesuit off, biting his tongue as he felt the pain take over him from the bruises.

“He told me that he’d be by during the week.” Lindsay then wrapped her arms around him, not wanting to see his tears, wanting every bit of it to end.

Outside, as they walked through the motorcoach lot and ready to leave the area, Danica had just finished telling Ricky about the details. She couldn’t hold it in. She had to tell somebody. As they walked, Ricky thought about it through and through, agreeing with her that something wasn’t right. There was something going on and both were doing one heck of a job hiding it.

“I don’t wha-” Danica then started as Ricky took a glance towards her.

“I do.” He cut her off simply as he grabbed her hand, knowing that he was going to find a way to get to the bottom of it. “You need to go tell Tony. He can get through to Dale.”

 

Chapter 2: Stewart

Monday after Michigan – Stewart-Haas Racing

“So I told Ricky and he said to tell you,” Danica finished off telling Tony about what had happened the previous day in Dale’s motorcoach. She was scared speaking up, scared telling his secret, but she had to tell somebody.

“I know we’re close and you’re friends with him so maybe you can help,” Ricky added, as that what was going through his mind after Danica had told him everything. He also had thoughts of telling Jimmie or Rick, but wasn’t sure how that would go over with how they are friends and such.

“Like I said, it’s not Lindsay, but it’s somebody he knows that is close in his life. I just wis-”

“Just quiet for a minute!” Tony then yelled, trying to think things over. How was this happening? Why was this happening? Was his affection towards Lindsay a cover-up? Was that a set-up to ward her off? Tony wanted to know why would somebody else do something? He sat back in his chair, musing in his own thoughts as she walked over to where he sat, curious as to what he was thinking. Did Tony know something? “Go back to your side of the desk, please. I really want to think this over before I do something I will probably regret.” By those words, Danica knew what Tony was thinking – he was in ass kicking mode. But who’s ass was first? “There’s a lot that has gone on that you both don’t know about and that could be why this is going on.” Tony then pulled out his phone, thinking of what to do. He was his own boss. He could leave at that minute and run over to Dale and confront him. Or would a text be simpler – would that cover the basis better? “Linsday isn’t the only person that has been in his life. Jimmie has been there, too.”

“So do you think Jimmie did this?” Ricky asked with his eyes wide open. He was in total disbelief. He would never ever believe Jimmie doing such a thing. How was this possible?

“It can’t be….” Danica thought outloud, also in shock by Tony’s words. There had to be some other explanation.

“When you say in his life, what do you mean?” Ricky knew that Dale was good friends with his teammate, but was Jimmie something special?

“They were in love and had sex; are you happy now?” Tony didn’t want to tell Ricky and Danica that, but knew that he was left only to do that. “I don’t believe Jimmie did it, though. I honestly have no idea whatsoever who is the person.” Ricky then crossed his arms, watching Tony fiddle with his phone.

“So what are you going to do?” Tony then stood up, knowing that texting wouldn’t be the same as confronting. If Dale wasn’t going to speak about it, there was only one way to make him.

“I’m going to go see him tonight and get him to fucking tell me. Then I’m going to go kick some ass before the night is over.” Danica then smiled, already knowing in her mind that’s how Tony would react.

“I will have your bail money posted for you,” Danica joked as they all laughed, trading some hugs as they left the office.

“I don’t even give a shit about that right now. All I give a shit is about finding out who is doing this.” They then walked through the halls as Ricky knew he’d have to leave soon, bounded by Tony’s rules of where he was allowed within the building.

“I still can’t believe you let me in the building,” Ricky commented as they walked through a set of doors. “But really, do you think you can get him to tell you? I mea-”

“I will force him to tell me,” Tony cut Ricky off, already determined that he wasn’t finishing the night without kicking ass. Danica then watched Tony send a text, curious as to who it was to.

Hey – are you still sleeping with Earnhardt?

No – why?

Just curious buddy.

Have the hots for him?

lol Not a chance. Just heard some rumors.

From who?

Don’t worry..shop guys. I’ll kill ‘em.

Tony closed his phone, now having a mind filled with too many thoughts. Was it Linsdsay? Was it Jimmie? Or was it someone else? How could this be happening? Why was he feeling so bad for Dale? Dale was a strong guy! He could handle it. Why was his heart cracking?

“Are you going to be alright?” Ricky asked as they reached the exit doors, seeing the look on Tony’s face. “I mean you look shocked, paranoid, confused. Sure you don’t want us to com-”

“I will handle it,” Tony assured them. “You go back to your love life now children.” Tony then closed the door, putting his phone in his pocket. “Why do you have that affect on me?” Shaking his head, he headed back inside, knowing where he was heading as he had to make sure to get things done fast so he could do what he had to do that night.

 

Chapter 3: The Visit

Dale Jr.’s house – Post-Michigan

Getting out of the truck, locking the doors, Tony Stewart was still nervous about walking through the doors and questioning Dale Jr. about what Danica had spoken of. What if it was nothing that she noticed? What if she was just overreacting to something that wasn’t needed? Shaking his head, he knew he was in denial at that point. He knew that he was trying to make it disappear because he didn’t want to believe that someone was hurting one of the people that he cared about. He was already too far in to turn back now.

He had texted Dale earlier that afternoon, wondering if they could hang out and drink beers, chit chat like they always would. It was a typical request that Dale wouldn’t get suspicious about. Dale had accepted – as he always did – and they agreed to meet up at the house around 9 to enjoy their back porch discussion.

As he walked up to the front door, he debated in his head how he would bring it up. Would he allow themselves to have a casual conversation and bring it up very lightly? Or would he spit it out, demanding answers? Either way, he wanted those answers before he walked back to his truck later that night. He wanted to know the exact name of the person and their address so he could fulfill the words that he had told Danica and Ricky earlier that day.

Knocking on the door, he moved his feet around nervously, still full of debate in mind, but now also anger. Deep breathes, he told himself. He knew he couldn’t let Dale see him like this to start off the night. It wouldn’t allow them to get to what he wanted to talk about.

“I thought you’d never show up,” he heard as the door opened, smiling. Even with something going on, Dale was being typical Dale in Tony’s mind and that’s what made it hard to believe. Even on track, things had been going great. Dale was running up front each week, clicking off good solid finishes without any worries. How could something like this be happening behind the scenes to ruin that good flavor?

“Remember – I do have a company to run,” Tony joked back as Dale led him through the house out to the back porch. They went out there, Tony closing the door behind him as he knew with the topic at hand, nobody needed to hear the details. Relaxing in the same chairs they always sat in, the cooler was already there, full of drinks ready to go. Everything so far was going as it would normally and that meant that the door was wide open for Tony to do what he needed to do. “It seems the business never quits for a second. There’s always some sort of paper that needs to be filled out and signed.” Dale then smiled, as he opened the cooler grabbing a drink for himself. With everything that was going on, it felt great to kick back and relax on the porch and share drinks with a friend. For the next couple of hours, he could escape what he had been going through. “How’s things at JR Motorsports?” Despite the self-arguments in his mind, Tony had decided to take things slow, not wanting to hit the pressure cooker right away. He also knew that he couldn’t waste too much time as he had to ask Dale before he had too much to drink. Getting him totally drunk and then asking wasn’t a good idea at this moment if he wanted a logical explanation.

“They’re alright if you consider how the boys are running on track.” Tony then shook his head as he grabbed his own bottle, quickly popping the top off, knowing he couldn’t look like there was something going on. Tony knew what Dale meant as it seemed Brad Sweet couldn’t stay out of trouble, while Regan Smith was having a solid season, currently sitting fourth in points. Tony watched Dale down half of the bottle in a swig, knowing that time was ticking till they got into the rest of the cooler. Though he was looking for any sign of what Danica spoke of. Dale sat beside him, wearing one of his all too familiar white t-shirts. For the area that as visible below the short sleeves, there was no marks to seen, none of the scratches that she spoke of. This person is careful with what they’re doing, Tony thought to himself. This person knew that people were always around Dale and there was no chance of leaving any clues.

“Brad will get better with experience and hey, Regan could still win that championship.” Dale smiled as Tony was right about Regan. Making up 20 points was very easy to do with three months left on the schedule. Many drivers had made up that many points in one week so what was stopping them?

“No doubt in my mind with his talent. How are things with Ryan and Danica?” Tony looked down, having wished Dale had not asked the question as he was hoping to bring up what was truly on his mind.

“Ryan is doing okay – no luck finding sponsorship for next year, while Danica is, well, learning.” There was no secret that Danica was having some bad runs, not even finishing within the top 20 as they had at least hoped for. But, Tony took it all in stride, knowing that each week she was continuing to learn and they would get better. “Listen, talking about Danica, I do want to talk you about something important. She came to my office today with some concerns.” Tony knew that he couldn’t wait any longer with how many thoughts were going through his mind and the concern that his heart felt. How could he sit there beside his best friend without doing anything?

“What did she say?” Well Dale was curious as to what Tony would answer, in his heart, he already knew the answer. She had seen enough on Sunday to be concerned and he knew after she left the motorcoach, that she would tell somebody. He was hoping that she’d only tell Ricky, but as Dale could tell, that wasn’t case. But why tell Tony? Why tell the guy that was known for kicking everybody’s ass?

“She told me that after coming to apologize to you, she saw some bruises and scratches that she was concerned about.” Dale then stood up, walking over to the railing, not knowing what to say next. For most people, he could lie to them, say it was cause of something. To others, like Danica, he knew he could ward them off and they wouldn’t press the issue. But Tony – he knew he couldn’t push Tony away. He knew that Tony wouldn’t leave till he got a straight answer and that worried Dale. Dale was scared to say who it was, knowing what was at stake. What if Dale opened his mouth and told Tony? Then what would happen to them? “Now I know by your reaction that she wasn’t fucking lying.”

“Just leave, please. I don’t want to talk about it.” Looking out at the field, Dale knew that he wasn’t in the mood to deal with Tony anymore that night. What he had hoped would be his escape was now turning into something worse than the pain itself. How could she send him over to push the issue? Why not someone else? Instead of listening to Dale’s requests, Tony joined Dale over by the railing, knowing that he came there wanting to know one thing and wasn’t leaving till he cracked the nut.

“You’re not doing yourself any favors by not saying anything to anybody about it.” Dale then looked towards Tony, shaking his head at Tony’s words. Tony didn’t know anything. Tony knew nothing about the secrets. He knew nothing about the torture that he was going through – the violation. Tony knew nothing about what Lindsay was having to deal with. How could he think Dale would open his heart and just tell him?

“You don’t understand…” Tony then put his hand on Dale’s, knowing that he had to do anything in his power to get Dale to tell him. If it meant showing the soft side that secretly cared about his best friend more than the racing and the team, then so be it.

“Then help me understand by telling me what’s going on.”

“I can’t do it.” Dale then turned, beginning to walk the length of the porch as the tears began to fall down his face. For the first time in a long time, somebody else besides his torturer and Lindsay had seen the tears fall out of his eyes. This had been going on for two months now and yet Dale had managed to hide it all from everybody. Why was he breaking right now in front of Tony? He walked over to the stairs, walking down them slowly in the darkness, heading into the backyard, just wanting to run. In that instance, all the pain that he had gone through – physically, emotionally – just wanted to pour our. He wasn’t about to let Tony be there to be consult him. That would just lead to him spilling the beans and that wasn’t an option.

Tony stood there, leaning on the railing, watching Dale go sit by the rocks by the pool, dipping his feet in, just staring. He saw enough. He saw the tears. He saw the pain written in Dale’s eyes when he said those few words. He saw everything that he needed to see to know it was true. How could this be happening? In that instant, he also felt his own heart break in half. How could he let this happen? For so many years, even when Jimmie was with Dale, he had always wondered what they’d be like together. How could he not be there to protect him?

“Why won’t he just leave?” Dale said outloud as he swirled the water around his feet. He was hoping that Tony would just leave as he didn’t want to have to deal with him. He didn’t want to talk about it, he didn’t want Tony to know anymore details.

As he sat there, losing himself in the motion of swirling the water around his feet, he then felt his phone vibrate. Pulling it out of his pocket, quickly unlocking it, many thoughts were going through his mind. It was probably the torturer, speaking of their next meeting. Or maybe it was one of the guys, with some random text. However, as he read the text, he realized it wasn’t none of that.

I wasn’t going to leave because of one thing – I care about you. To see you cry, to see you hurt, it breaks my heart. How could you let someone do this without telling everyone? For your own sake, please tell someone that can help you! Tell the cops!……Considering you don’t want to talk about it, I decided to leave. However, when you want to talk about it, know that I am just a phone call away. The minute you phone, the minute I will walk through that door and be there to hear your story. To help you. Remember Dale, I love and care about you. I want to see you happy.     – Smoke

Dale closed the message, putting his phone in his pocket, feeling the tears trickle down his face.

Meanwhile, out front of the house, Tony sat in his truck, holding his phone in his lap – waiting for a text, waiting for a phone call. He was praying in his mind that Dale would open up and allow him to be there. Why wasn’t he responding?

“Fuck Dale!” Tony yelled before throwing his phone across the truck in frustration, hearing the screen shatter against the passenger door. He then turned the truck on, backing out of the driveaway and driving away. If Dale wasn’t going to open up and realize that someone was there, willing to give him a way out, then Tony wasn’t going to sit there all night and waste the night away. “Now I need another new phone. And I still didn’t kick anyone’s ass! Why won’t he listen to me?” Driving down the dark roads, Tony lost his mind his own thoughts, thinking it over. What was stopping him? Why wouldn’t he say something?

 

Chapter 4: The Wreck

Daytona International Speedway – July

2 weeks had past by and still nothing – Dale had yet to reach out to Tony and speak about any of the details. There was nights that he wanted to, but as he would reach for the phone, fears would enter his mind, scared of what could happen if the news spread.

However, after what had happened on the last lap of the race, he was ready to do it – knowing that he needed to talk to Tony. This time, the torturer had crossed the line.

Last lap coming out of turn four, Dale and his new found enemy were side-by-side, battling for the win. As they went for the tri-oval, it looked like without a doubt that it’d be the “other guy” taking the win as he was half a car ahead. Dale was fine to settle for second – mad, but would settle for second. It would at least keep him up front in the points and that’s all that mattered. However, in a split second, that finish was wiped out of his hands. The car to his outside came down, making contact, sending Dale for a spin through the grass, resulting in a finish of 14th – or at least that’s what NASCAR has decided for now. How was that fair?

Sitting in the trailer, glad that he at least didn’t find a wall in the incident or another car, he was ready to press the numbers on his phone that could give him the freedom his body ached for. Finally somebody would know what was going on. Finally, maybe, somebody could help him and he could escape what he was going throug-

“What the hell was that about?” Dale heard, surprised, as he looked up to see Steve LeTarte storming into the trailer, furious. Steve wasn’t one to get mad. He never got mad. He typically always had a calming sentence or two to put Dale in his place. Dale was actually glad that Steve was able to do that with everything that was going on. “How does a teamma-”

“Steve, calm down,” Dale encouraged, not needing to hear this right now as his phone sat in his hand ready to dial Tony’s number. He had put Tony’s number on speed dial, not wanting any hesitation when the decision was finally made. “He probably got loos-”

“I’ve watched the replay 20 times and no, he didn’t! He did that on purpose!” Dale watched Steve storm back out of the trailer, still surprised at how mad the normal crew chief was. For sure something had to give. Now it had gone too far. It was fine when it was away from the track, hidden from everybody. Dale could handle that, to a certain extent only, but he could handle it. He could keep the tears hidden away, locked to where nobody saw them. He could hide the marks that were left on his body as reminders for what had happened. But to take it on the track and do something that messed the one thing Dale held on to up? To screw up the race for the team because of their own deal? Was that even fair? Not at all!

As Dale fiddled with the phone in his hand, now returning to a mind of self doubt in saying something, he could hear Steve outside discussing things with Rick. This definitely isn’t going to end well for me, Dale thought. He knew once word spread to Rick and their “teammate” got in trouble, there’d be anger to be spread and directly at him. That was how it always worked. As soon as something happened on track to make him mad, he would take it out on Dale right away. It didn’t matter what. Dale was his pressure release and that was all that mattered. It didn’t matter whether somebody else had caused the wreck, he had caused the wreck or some mechanical failure – Dale felt the blunt of it all. That’s why part of him was glad to see the guy win as maybe he could escape for a week. However, with Rick involved, that wasn’t likely.

“Rick is going to have a talk with him about it,” Dale heard Steve say as Steve returned inside the trailer, somewhat calmer. While Steve was calmer, Dale’s blood began to boil and rush through his veins. What would be the plan for Monday night or Tuesday afternoon if that be the case? What would the torturer do next?

Filled with worry, knowing that he couldn’t say a word to Steve or Rick without giving off a clue, he quickly picked up his phone – sending out the text that Tony had been begging to read the past two weeks.

Tony, I’m ready. I’m ready to tell you what’s going on. Meet me at the house tonight at 11 when I get home. 

As Tony sat in his hauler reading the text, he smiled. Finally Dale had come around. Finally Dale was going to speak the truth and say what was going on. There was only one thing Tony feared now – who was the person behind it and what had they done? What had they done to push Dale to the edge of telling?

“Whoever it is, they better hope that somebody is there to save them,” Tony spoke outloud before quickly heading out, not wanting to be late for their meeting together.

“Whoa Tony – slow down!” Danica yelled as Tony almost ran into her, trying to make his way quickly through the garage area.

“Sorry. Didn’t see ya.” Danica was shocked by those words as she followed him. How could he not see her when she was wearing a bright, bright green suit?

“Where are you off to in a hurry? I have never seen you run like this before – except when you’re mad. Did somebody piss you off?” Tony looked towards her, knowing that was exactly the truth.

“Oh yeah, and they’re going to pay. Remember the promise you told me a couple weeks ago.” She then smiled, knowing what that meant. It was finally time for Tony to figure out what was going on. She had to admit – she had been worried about Dale since the day she noticed the first bruise. She had wanted to go and say something to him, but knew by Tony’s words to sit back and wait till he was ready.

“Good luck.” She then headed off in the other direction as Tony ran into his motorcoach, quickly grabbing his bag.

“If I was her, I’d be saying that to oh said bitch.” As Tony ran out of the motorcoach 10 minutes later with his bag packed, he pulled out his phone, sending one quick text.

Thanks for finally texting me. It’s about damn time. I’ll meet you on the back porch when ya get there. If I get there before you, I’ll let Killer and Stroker out for a pee.

Chapter 5: The Marks…
Dale Jr.’s House – Saturday night, post July Daytona race

Tony stood on the back porch, watching the two dogs run around, looking for a spot to do their business. The race had gone alright for Stewart as he managed a fourth place finish despite the wreck at the end. However, that wasn’t what was bugging him. He was concerned about what would happen when Dale came home. Would he be able to take in every thing that Dale was going to tell him? Could he handle hearing the events first hand himself? Shaking his head, he knew he had to. He had to so he could kick the person’s ass. He hated the thought of what Dale was going through and it made him sick everytime he thought about it.

“How’d you let the dogs out?” Tony heard, causing him freeze. He knew that voice from anywhere. He didn’t need to look at the eyes behind him to know who it was.

“I went and got the spare key from Kelley,” Tony replied as he held the set of keys up, still keeping his eyes focused on the dogs.

“Did you say anything to her about why you’re here?” Tony could hear the fear in Dale’s voice as it was quivered, while just above a whisper. Tony now knew that there’d be lots of comfort needed because whatever was going on was big.

“No – I just told her that I came here to hang out with you and chit chat over some drinks due to having tomorrow off.” Tony then turned slightly, locking eyes with Dale. He had to make one thing clear before he started anything. “When I told you that you could trust me, that I wouldn’t tell anyone, that it would be kept between us – I meant it.” Dale smiled slightly, still keeping his eyes down. Was he ready to let somebody in and let them know exactly what was going on?

“Thanks…..I’ll take those two inside and get changed. Stroker! Killer!” Both dogs shot their eyes up, immediately running to their owner, giving him licks. Dale chased the pair of dogs inside as Tony turned around, looking over the backyard again. In all previous thoughts of this moment, he had felt confident. Now, he felt scared – how would he start this conversation off? How would he show that Dale that he was really going to be there for him? Tony shook his head, downing the last of the bottle of the water as Dale came back out, changed into a t-shirt and some jeans.

“Where’s Lindsay?” Tony knew he had to start the conversation somewhere and this was a spot to begin it, since he was worried that maybe she’d show up in between their conversation and mess up the confession. Maybe that’s why Dale had chosen to tell him that day.

“She went away for the weekend with some of her girlfriends. She’ll be back tomorrow night.” Tony smiled inside, knowing that meant they had the time to themselves to discuss what needed to be discussed. If Lindsay had any effect on what was going on, it wasn’t something to be worried about at this point. Tony then moved so he was sitting in the chair beside Dale, taking a deep breath. He was anxious, wanting to hear the name badly – knowing where he’d be going right after the name was spoken. However, he also knew that he had to be careful. It had taken two weeks for Dale to take him up on the offer so he couldn’t ruin the opportunity. “Whenever you’re ready, I’m here to listen to what you want to tell me.”

Dale shifted in the chair so his back was facing Tony, slowly pulling up his t-shirt to reveal the bruises that Tony had learned about from Danica. There were some that looked more fresh than others, while some looked like they were almost healed. There were ones that were a light brown and small to a purplish one that was huge. In that moment, Dale couldn’t find the words to say what he wanted to say. He couldn’t find the words to say the person that had hurt him so badly, that had caused the wreck, that was ruining his life one inch at a time. It felt like someone had come and ripped his tongue out of his mouth. Was there fear setting in?

Tony ran his eyes over the marks, lost for words. There had to be a good 30 different marks across Dale’s back, inflicting their own levels of pain. The caring part of Tony wanted to rub Dale’s back, find someway to soothe them. The frustrated part of Tony wanted to scream at Dale for not saying something. The angry part knew that some serious ass kicking was needed to be delivered. How could this had happened?

While fighting to find the words to say to Tony, the tears began to once again fall down Dale’s face as they had the other time he had faced Tony for this discussion. Facing the pain, possibly finding a way out of it made it even more real. Though the fear was also there. His so-called teammate would be mad when Rick began to the lecture during the Monday morning meetings. Dale knew he would already be feeling the blunt of Steve opening his mouth. Though if Tony dare said a word that escaped that area – that would be even worse. There was no telling that would happen in their next meeting. Was Dale ready to face that? Could he handle what was yet to come? As his thoughts collided with each other, he began to stand up, knowing that he had made the wrong decision in sending Tony the message in the heat of the moment.

“I can’t tell you….I’m sorry….” Dale let out, tears streaming down his face, feeling defeated. He knew that this was his inner battle to face till he could find way out of it himself. There was no way that he could let somebody else know what he was going through. That was just too hard.

“Dale, please let me know,” Tony begged as he grabbed Dale’s hand, wanting to pull him close and give him a comforting hug, wanting to be there. All the frustration and anger had cleared as Tony’s heart broke immediately after the first tear fell. He couldn’t believe the sight before him. Immediately, Tony felt Dale go to pull away…..

“Let me go, Stewart. Let me go! Stew-”

“If you can tell me like that, then why the hell can’t you say that to whoever is doing this to you?” Tony didn’t want to grab Dale’s hand and hold it as tightly as he did, but he had to. He had to show Dale that he would be there for him. He had to show Dale that he cared and wanted to help. He also wanted to see what Dale would do, sort of like a brutal reaction test. He had expected the fear to come across Dale and for him to be able to use that to break the barrier that Dale held up. Instead, he was treated to defense from Dale and that had him curious. What was going on between him and this person? “What is stopping you, Earnhardt?” Dale kept his eyes focused on Tony, growing frustrated with Tony’s antics as his eyes from a crystal blue to a dark navy blue. The anger was growing and as much as Dale wanted to keep things cool between him and Tony, part of him was able to give Tony a slap for what he was choosing to do.

“Just let me go.”

“Fine – but I want an answer.” Having seen enough to answer some of his questions in his head, Tony did as requested, curious as to whether Dale would tell him what he was originally supposed to tell him.

“I told you before – you don’t understand.” Tony rolled his eyes, standing up so they were level with each other. He hadn’t come for a fight right there, but if that is what it took, then he was willing to do it. He wanted to get to the bottom of what was going on.

“Then why don’t you start explaining? Nobody will understand till you speak your mind! Nobody will know what you’re going through till you let them know! If you don’t say something, this is going to go on forev-”

“No, because I’m going to handle it myself.” There were many nights Dale had sat thinkings of ideas on how to handle things. Would he tell the police and get them involved, arresting the individual and hoping the charges stuck? Would he hurt the person back in no way describable to let them know what he was going through? Or was there some secret he could dig up that would hurt enough to make it end? “I don’t need you doing my dirty deeds for me.” Tony took a deep breath, shaking his head. How had their discussion gotten to this point?

“I think you do because if you could do it yourself, it would’ve been done.” Dale shook his head, walking away from where they stood, knowing that he had definitely made a mistake in texting Tony. How could he had let him into his world? “Admit it – you’re scared and you don’t want anybody to know the details of that.” Tony then followed Dale, wanting to get through to him, not willing to leave. He had left the other night and had regretted it ever since. “What is stopping you from telling that person what you said to me? What do they have over your head that you’re not telling?” Dale reached for the back sliding door, ready to find a mistake from Tony, but Tony put his hand on the door, holding it shut. He wanted one last shot at getting the truth out before he once again left, defeated. “Why do you let them keep hurting you? I don’t care who it is anymore – I just want to know why they are doing it. I want to try and help you, and to do that, I have to understand what you’re going through.”

“I told you – I can’t tell you and I’m going to handle it myself.” Dale then pushed Tony back, causing Tony to trip over the chair. Dale heard Tony fall, but ignored it, sliding the door open. He just wanted to escape Tony and not have to answer the questions. He couldn’t. He knew he couldn’t and it was eating him inside. As Dale began to slide the door closed, Tony got there, pushing it back, not ready to give up. Dale had pushed things too far at that point and Tony was ready to let his feelings loose. “If you don’t leave, I will punch you. I thought you’d get the ide-”

“Tell me what is going on and let me help you!” Tony then walked inside the house, following Dale into the kitchen. “Give me something to work with to understand why you can’t say anything.” Dale then turned around, looking at Tony straight in the eyes, anger written through his eyes and stance. Tony had picked the wrong time to test the Earnhardt  Stance.

“What part of I have it handled and I don’t need you do not understand?” Tony then walked up to Dale, standing right up close, ready to say what needed to be said. There was only one reason Tony hadn’t left yet.

“Because I fucking love you and care about your ass. I have always loved you – that’s what attracted me towards you in wanting to be your friend.” Tony then walked past Dale, knowing that was the last bit of effort he had left in him. He had no other ideas in how he could possibly get Dale to tell him what needed to be said. If Dale didn’t want to tell him, then he would have to live with that. Also, with confessing his love, he also felt his own tears fill in his eyes, hurt that the person he loved didn’t trust him. Tony walked down the hallway slowly, headed for the front door, ready to leave. He couldn’t do nothing about it and it killed him inside. It felt worse than any of the previous feelings he had. “Text me if you grow some ball-”

“Do you remember Amber?” Tony then froze, a shiver going through him at hearing her name. Amber was Dale’s famous flirt from his second season in NASCAR. Everybody hated her attitude, and the fact that she was always wearing tank tops that showed off her boobs and short shorts. In contrast to what everybody was saying, Dale insisted that everything was perfect in his eyes with her. For Tony, she was the total tramp, just trying to sleep with all of the drivers. When Tony heard that Dale broke it off at the end of the season, he had an inner celebration, glad that Dale had reached his senses. He was glad to put her in the book of girls they’d never hear of again. “Amber Lynn Jami-”

“Yeah, I remember the tramp. What does she have to do with what is going on? Is she the reason that this is happening?” Dale then walked down the hall up Tony, ready to begin explaining a piece of the puzzle. He wasn’t ready to say who was doing it and what was going on, but after hearing Tony’s confessions and knowing the feelings that he had felt for Tony in the past, he was willing to start somewhere.

“She’s not the one doing it, but she has to do with the reason. The person, who I can’t say because….I just can’t. Anyways, the person knows something about Amber and I that is causing this.” Dale walked into his living room, opening a table drawer, pulling out some photos. Looking at them, he knew this was the perfect time that he had told anybody about the contents – beside Jimmie – and knew it was a big step to tell somebody else what had happened. He was just worried as to how Tony would handle it once he knew everything. “Meet Angelica.” Tony looked over the photos, surprised by what he saw. The girl in the photos looked to be in her teens in some of the newer photos, with blond hair that matched Angelica’s and those crystal blue eyes that Tony knew where Dale’s. “She’s my daughter.”